Traceability ‘substantially’ more important post horsegate: Mintel

By Lorraine Mullaney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food and drink Food

The horsemeat scandal had made consumers more aware of traceability and local food, said Mintel
The horsemeat scandal had made consumers more aware of traceability and local food, said Mintel
Buying traceable, local and British food has risen “substantially” up consumers’ agendas since the horsemeat scandal, according to the latest research from Mintel.

The market research firm surveyed 1,500 consumers nationwide in December 2012 and again this month. Presenting the research findings at International Food & Drink event IFE yesterday (March 19) at London’s Excel centre, Mintel’s director of innovation & insight David Jago said 14% of consumers rated the traceability of food and drink as important this month, compared with only 6% last December.

The survey also revealed that the importance of buying local (within a 30-mile radius) rose from 17% to 21%, while the importance of buying British rose from 30% in December 2012 to 34% in March 2013.

When asked if this was a short-term reaction to the scandal, Jago told “It’s a blip in the sense that the numbers will die down, but they won’t fall back to the levels they were at before.”

Made in Britain logo

Despite a 4% increase in consumers claiming they would pay more for food that displayed a ‘Made in Britain’ logo on pack, Jago was sceptical about the success of such a strategy.

He said: “I don’t think displaying a Made in Britain label on food products is the answer because there are too many logos on our food products already, it’s confusing for consumers.” 

Mintel research confirmed that only 50% of consumers recognised well-established logos, such as the Red Tractor symbol, so adding another logo to the pack wasn’t the answer.

“It’s too simplistic a response because it comes down to how complex the category is,”​ said Jago. “For example, processed foods contain a number of ingredients, so where do you draw the line? There has to be some rule.”

Trust with the brand

Jago said the answer was to tell the story of a product, giving the consumer as much information as possible on the back of the packaging and in associated materials, such as the website to build a connection with the product and trust with the brand.

“You need to tell your consumers what’s in your food, where it comes from and what you’re doing with it,” he said.

Quick Response (QR) codes were a “gimmick” ​that was used primarily as a promotional device. Given their market penetration they should be bigger, he added.

Jago thought it was only a matter of time before there was another food scare. He predicted that the next scandal would involve poultry.

“There’s so much cheap imported poultry in our food chain with low welfare standards that there’s a lot of scope for it to go wrong. It’s only a matter of time before there’s another issue,” ​he said.

Meanwhile, 864 manufacturing businesses – including 20 food firms – have backed a campaign to establish a Made in Britain​ logo.

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