Government is responsible for making food fair, say consumers


A new survey has found that 92% of UK shoppers think  food companies should ensure food production is fair and sustainable, with 85% believing the Government should take responsibility for this.

The survey, published yesterday, was carried out by independent research consultancy GlobeScan, and also found that consumers feel food producers should be protected from unfair trade such as low prices – 63% believe UK farmers and 64% believe that farmers in developing countries are underpaid for their produce.

Whilst 65% said that responsibly produced food is more expensive, 58% would be willing to pay more if they knew products were delivering a better price and fairer wages for farmers and workers, closely followed by environmentally-friendly food production at 53%.

However, the research found that although consumers recognize a link between low prices and unsustainable food production, only 43% connect this with the future availability of food and 55% understand the risks posed by climate change to food supply chains are significant. 74% agree that for future generations, we need to take some steps to ensure sustainable food production.

The respondents also believe that avoiding child and slave labour should be priorities for the Government in improving food production, followed by food safety and safe working conditions for producers.

“British people are giving a strong message to companies and the Government about the kind of trade we want to see and now, more than ever, they must prioritize fairer, greener, more sustainable food production,” said Michael Gidney, CEO, Fairtrade Foundation, commenting on the survey. “Therefore progressive, responsible businesses will want to respond to their customers’ desire to see them treat farmers and workers fairly.

“And the public’s views on the importance of ensuring the human rights of farmers and workers is a clear sign to the government to prioritize these issues and improve working conditions across supply chains.”

Abbie Curtis, senior project manager at GlobeScan, added: This research shows very clearly that British consumers expect businesses and Government to take action to ensure the fairness and long-term sustainability of food production, both here at home and in developing countries. It is important for retailers and food companies, alongside government, to respond to this and take appropriate steps towards meeting these expectations.”

The full survey can be viewed here.