UK consumers favour regional foods over organic, according to dairy co-operative First Milk.

A study, carried out with ten separate focus groups found consumers perceive organic food to be more natural than "conventional" foods, but regional foods came out on top in terms of preference, scoring higher on factors such as patriotism, personality and support for local producers.

Jeff Halliwell, managing director of First Milk's cheese division, said: "In many cases, regional foods tick more consumer boxes than organic foods with no defined origin. The consumers we interviewed believed buying regional would support local farmers and businesses more, and that the product would taste better. They're not always sure where organic comes from.

"Consumers are becoming much more savvy about the origin of the food they purchase. They want to be reassured about provenance, and our consumer research said that they were becoming concerned about the actions of some retailers who simply stick a local or regional label on food without a credible story to back this up."

The focus groups were run in the north and south of England and Wales, with women between 30 and 50, all who were responsible for the family shop and who bought from a major retailer.