Product origin labels ‘must be made clearer online’

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Country of origin information for food and drink must be made clearer when shopping online, the NFU said
Country of origin information for food and drink must be made clearer when shopping online, the NFU said

Related tags Origin labelling Supermarket

Country of origin information for food and drink should be displayed by online retailers, just as it is on supermarket shelves, to help shoppers choose British produce, the National Farmers Union (NFU) claims.

The organisation said shoppers needed clear information on a product’s origin to buy the food they want. More than 80% of consumers thought there should be the same amount of information about a food product’s country of origin online, as there is on physical food packaging, according to a YouGov survey, commissioned by the NFU.

The survey also revealed that people thought country of original labelling was less clear for processed foods than for unprocessed meat (57%) and eggs (66%). Almost two-thirds of respondents said they ‘always’ or ‘occasionally’ look out for British products while shopping.

British-only filter

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of UK adults said it would be helpful to have a ‘British-only filter’ on online supermarkets. That included a button to only include British produce when searching for food and drink.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “Country of origin labelling is important because we know from public surveys that shoppers want to buy more British food products produced on British farms. Clearly, shoppers cannot exercise that choice without clear country of origin labelling.

“The NFU believes the same information that is available to shoppers in store should be available online. That is why the NFU is calling for a clear and honest country of origin labelling system in its manifesto for the General Election.”

‘Clear and honest country of origin labelling’

Online shopping sales was expected to increase 75% in the four years to 2017, according to grocery think-tank IGD. The NFU said it would work with everyone throughout the food chain to ensure country of origin of products sold online were clearly identifiable.

The NFU urged the next government to improve labelling of meat and milk as an ingredient in processed products. There should be clearer online labelling, and country of origin labelling must be made available to consumers in the foodservice sector, it added.

“Looking out for the Red Tractor logo is the easiest way to find food from British farms,”​ Raymond said.

Meanwhile, the YouGov survey included a sample size of 2,246 UK adults. Results were recorded between April 12 and 18 2017.

YouGov/NFU survey – at a glance

  • 81% think country of origin labelling should be same online as on shelves
  • 64% would find it helpful to have a ‘British-only’ filter online
  • 64% ‘always’ or ‘occasionally’ look out for British produce

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