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Consumers demanding ethical and sustainable foods, report finds

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A new report has revealed that 75 per cent of UK shoppers say they want supermarkets to only stock food from sustainable and ethical sources.

Furthermore, the report, UK Food Trends: A Snapshot in Time, found that 72 per cent of UK shoppers also expect their supermarket, shop or restaurant to know the precise ingredients of all food products sold despite complex supply chains that may span several countries of origin.

The report, launched by food safety certification experts, Lloyds Register, highlights the increasing role of ethical and sustainable drivers in food purchasing decisions and also demonstrates that UK shoppers are increasingly concerned about food safety, with one in every three people confirming their concerns have increased in the last year, while one in five have actually changed brands following reports of a food safety incident or product recall. Shoppers’ biggest safety concern, at around six per cent, is bacterial food contamination, such as salmonella or listeria, and one in five UK shoppers have swapped brands in the last year due to a food safety scare.

However, the research also reveals what Lloyd’s Register has described as the often ‘contradictory nature’ of the modern food shopper, while people want ethical and sustainable food, price is still a huge driver, with 40 per cent of consumers saying cost is the single biggest incentive behind purchasing decisions.

Stuart Kelly, Head of Commercial, Customised Assurance at Lloyds Register, commented: “This research is a snapshot of UK food shopping habits, which reveals the demanding, and at times contradictory state-of-mind of the modern food shopper, who places great importance on food safety, is very demanding of retailers and restaurants, but is still highly price-driven.”

The findings also suggest that there is a deep suspicion among UK consumers about the claims made for many organic and vegan products. In fact, one in five UK consumers declared themselves to be ‘not confident at all’ or ‘very suspicious’ about claims that vegan products do not contain meat. What’s more, one quarter of all consumers (26.9 per cent) say they are ‘not confident at all’ that food products labelled as organic are grown or reared using organic farming methods.

Stuart continued: “There is a trust and credibility gap in the minds of consumers over many vegan and vegetarian products. Whilst initiatives like the Vegan Certification Scheme are important, there is still much work to be done. Clearly transparency and trust need to be top of the agenda for any supermarket, with a credibility gap only set to widen if not addressed via the clear and coherent compliance of the industry.”

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