How much more are we prepared to pay for locally produced foods?
Release Date 13 October 2006
A survey carried out by the University of Reading has revealed that consumers are prepared to pay a premium for locally-produced food over imported goods. Scientists from the Department of Agriculture and Food Economics have found that on average consumers are willing to pay a premium of 88 pence per 500 grams for lamb, and 97 pence per 500 grams for strawberries for locally-sourced produce. They would be willing to pay a much smaller premium for UK, but not local, produce over imports - 21 pence and 12 pence respectively. Older people and those with higher incomes are prepared to pay the highest premium for local foods. Professor Bruce Traill, principal investigator of the Rural Economy and Land Use research project (RELU) at the University of Reading, said: "Consumers think of local foods as being produced and sold within a 30-50 mile radius. Focus groups suggest that local foods are considered to be fresher and tastier. Supporting local farmers is considered important by some consumers but others argue that farmers are already rich, receive considerable support from government and don't need any more. "However, many felt that foods produced locally should be cheaper whereas in fact they were thought to be often far too expensive to justify purchase. They were also considered inconvenient to purchase, most people preferring to do all their shopping in one supermarket rather than make a special trip to a farmers' market or sign up to an organic box scheme. These were considered to be the only purchase routes even though in practice many supermarkets do sell local produce." The study took in the views of 222 people, who were asked for their views on a range of topics, including origin, organics, price, freshness, food miles and support for local businesses Overall the results suggest that many consumers are prepared to pay a substantial premium for locally produced food if it is displayed alongside the imported alternative, but are not prepared to go to the length of making a time-consuming visit to a specialist outlet such as a farmers' market. The premiums though that consumers are willing to pay appear large enough for supermarkets, especially those targeted at affluent consumers, more actively to market ranges of local produce. Ends Notes for editors 1. The press release draws on "UK Focus Group Evidence: Consumer Attitudes to Local, National and Imported Foods" A. E. Lobb, L.T. Butler & K.N. Harvey, RELU Report No. 01 July, 2005 and "Willingness to pay for, and consumers' attitudes to, local, national and imported foods: A UK survey" Lobb, A.E., Arnoult, M.H. & Chambers, S.A., Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) Report No. 3, June, 2006 2. RELU is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The project at Reading aims to examine the potential for the development of sustainable UK food chains capable of delivering healthy foods that consumers wish to buy at prices they are willing to pay and to assess the impact on land use and the rural environment and economy. 3. For more information, please visit: www.relu.reading.ac.uk or contact Professor Bruce Traill, Professor of Agricultural & Food Economics, The University of Reading Tel: 0118 378 8389, or Email: B.Traill@reading.ac.uk About the University of Reading The University of Reading is one of the foremost research-led universities in the UK. Founded in the nineteenth century and gaining a Royal Charter in 1926, we offer a wide range of programmes from the pure and applied sciences to languages, social sciences and fine art. New research and the latest thinking continually feed into undergraduate teaching, with our academic staff working at the forefront of their fields of expertise. For further information visit www.reading.ac.uk Further information For further information contact Lucy Ferguson, Senior Press Officer, on 0118 378 7388, or L.Ferguson@reading.ac.uk