Truss says consumers want to buy local

Truss says consumers want to buy local

The UK government has called on food manufacturers and retailers to provide shoppers with more information on where in the UK food comes from with the introduction of "local labelling".

Environment Secretary Elisabeth Truss argued that labelling detailing what region – or even farm – food was produced at would enable shoppers to take "more pride" in buying British foods. This, she suggested, builds on the government's existing commitment to support stricter country of origin labelling requirements.

Truss said: "Earlier this month the government called for more consistent and clearer labelling for dairy products at EU level, and the UK continues to lobby to ensure rules on country of origin labelling can use terms such as Made in Scotland, Made in Wales or Made in Yorkshire'.

"The government has already pushed for country of origin labelling for fresh, unprocessed goat, pork, lamb and poultry which has been required by law since April this year. Research from 2013 showed that around 90% of retailers went further to provide clearer country of origin labelling for lightly processed products such as bacon, sausages and burgers and some dairy products including milk."

According to a new study from the UK's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, almost 80% of UK consumers see buying local food as a "top priority". Vegetables, at 51%, and meat, at 40%, topped the list of products that people would buy if a local option was available, Defra said. This, the department suggested, demonstrates "the potential to grow our meat and vegetable industry, worth GBP10.5bn (US$16bn) in 2014".

"Today’s figures highlight the enthusiasm of British consumers for our astonishing variety of local produce which helps grow our GBP100bn food and farming industry even further," Truss said.

The Environment Secretary added that the government plans to launch Great British Food initiative later this year to celebrate "top-quality British produce" in the UK and overseas. The government will work with retailers to "embrace" demand for British food while also increasing the number of protected food names to promote "British specialities" overseas, Truss added.