Monday, 24 October 2011


I was a bit shocked that despite all the claims that we support buying British produce we don't. I was slightly concerned too to read that Country Life is the only major British butter brand? The other two leading brands are from Denmark and New Zealand.

I looked through my basket today and a lot of what I had was not British. Its quite sad that some brands and fresh produce are disappearing as we stop buying.

Its a bit of a dilemma as I count the pennies and sometimes  go for a brand thats on special or cheaper. I heard Michel Roux talking this week about British pears and one Kent variety is dying out as people are not buying, yet it tastes better and if more people bought it the price would actually go down. Now this seems like a win win situation to me.
Do you buy British let me know.

I will be posting a recipe soon using Country Life and British products.


Though British people claim to support buying national produce[i], in fact they don’t, an expert report commissioned by Country Life has confirmed. Despite having the fourth-largest food and drink manufacturing industry in the world, the UK currently imports twice as much food as it exports. Agriculture amounts to a mere 0.5% of the UK’s GDP[ii]  and the share of the local food market stands at just 7.8%.

The Bread and Butter Report was prepared by Country Life, the only major British butter brand, and brought together key industry experts ahead of British Food Fortnight to discuss issues facing the British food industry and how to tackle them.

Only 34% of adults pay attention to where the products they buy are made or grown[iii], even though 76% recognise that buying British food supports British businesses[iv]. With only two in five trusting British food over imported, the government, food producers and retailers have a job to convince consumers to buy British food, say the experts. 

While 43% of over-55s see a British origin as important in food, this share halves among 16-24 year olds to just 20%. Similarly, 45% of over-65s pay attention to where the products they buy are made or grown, compared to just 23% of 16-24-year-olds.[v] The experts agreed that encouraging the public to engage more with local and British food could help these foods to secure a place in shopping baskets in the longer term.

Asda revealed plans in early 2011 to grow its local sales by £70 million by 2013, while Tesco set a target of £1 billion for its sales of local food by 2011[vi]. Meanwhile, Tesco and Waitrose both reported double-digit growth in local food sales in 2009. The panel agreed, however, that since British retailers follow consumers rather than the other way round, engaging the UK public on the issue of buying British may be more important than persuading supermarkets to support the ‘buy British’ message.

With UK consumers’ purchasing decisions still driven by price, with provenance and even taste remaining secondary considerations, the campaign calls for consumers to re-prioritise British provenance. 

Compounding these difficulties is a public perception associating British food with mass production and a lack of quality. Matthew Fort said: “The French and Italians largely buy their national food in the belief that it is better. More focus on the quality of British ingredients would undoubtedly help consumers recognise their value.”  

There is real opportunity within the British food industry and the panel agreed that should be maximised given the predictions for slow economic growth. Rob Newbery of the National Farmers Union said: “British farmers are keen to expand their businesses and produce more, and for consumers to have more access to British products.” 

The expert panel called for more to be done in British schools, to educate children directly about the value of British food and to teach them where food comes from. Matthew Fort, food writer and critic commented: “The main area in which the government could help would be to educate British children about the value of food in schools.”

Mark Allen CEO of Dairy Crest, one of Britain’s largest dairy companies, and Vice Chairman of Dairy UK, the representative industry research body said: “If the majority of kids think milk comes from Tesco, then we have a problem.” 

A generation of TV chefs trumpeting the value of seasonality and localism has done little to change consumer behaviour. The share of people who try to buy goods produced in the UK stopped at 47% in 2010[vii].


  1. For stuff such as fresh fruit and veg I try to buy british and I would never buy anything but british honey. I had a conversation with a friend a while ago and she thought all local produce was organic and therefore expensive. Maybe there is some work the supermarkets need to do to let people know that local can equal cheap.


  2. Doesn't it make you mad! I think the problem is that retailers display their wares without spotlighting what is local and/or British so the busy shopper just does not have time. I think if supermarkets had British sections just as they do Asian etc., or retailers used more obvious branding we may be able to spot those brands in the blink of an eye rather than having to scour up and down banks of foreign produce. Having said that, it is up to the consumers to buy British and support British agriculture, manufacturing and jobs otherwise we shall become an impotent nation dependent wholly dependent on imports. If plague broke out in the world most of us would die of starvation before anything else! Thanks for reminding me I must try harder.