Blog: Dean BestUK shoppers happy to cast a wide net

Dean Best | 2 August 2007

Are UK consumers really buying into the “food miles” concept and demanding more locally produced food?

Market analysts Mintel says they are; a report from the organisation claims that over half of UK shoppers feel that there is not enough local food available in stores.

At first glance, these are worrying findings for those immersed in the sustainability debate. As has been argued on these pages before, concept of food miles remains easy for consumers to grasp but, in practice, it is too simplistic and we lose sight of a raft of wider sustainability issues.

How does, for instance, the issue of Fairtrade fit into a concept of food miles? And just how do the latest figures on Fairtrade sales fit with the idea that UK shoppers are clamouring for food from Kent instead of Kenya?

Figures from the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) said the amount of money spent on Fairtrade products soared by 41% in 2006.

Consumers worldwide spent EUR1.6bn (US$2.2bn) on Fairtrade goods last year, with cocoa, coffee, tea and bananas showing robust growth.

UK shopping habits are, indeed, a complex beast.


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