Country of origin labelling: omnibus research report
Thursday 14 January 2010
The Food Standards Agency commissioned quantitative market research to investigate consumer use, understanding and perceived importance of country of origin labelling on food products.
Contractor: Ipos MORI
The Food Standards Agency commissioned research to investigate consumer use, understanding and perceived importance of country of origin labelling on food products. In particular, the research addressed whether country of origin labelling is looked for when purchasing food products and, specifically, on which food products; if origin labelling is perceived to be important, and for which food products specifically; and what consumers understand origin labelling to mean and what they would like origin labelling to represent. Findings will inform policy development in this area.
Questions were placed on the stratified, clustered random probability omnibus surveys of adults in Great Britain run by NatCen, with a boost in Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Interviews were conducted face-to-face using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI). The sample was recruited using a multi-stage sampling design and a representative sample of 1,601 adults aged 16 or more in the UK, living in private households, was interviewed. The data were then weighted using selection weights and calibration weights in order to ensure the final sample was representative, and were used to run all analyses. Statistically significant changes between key sub-groups have been reported at the 95% confidence level.
Part 1: Information used on food labels
- The information most commonly used when purchasing food for the first time was price and the amount of fat in food (both 30%) and best before/use by date (27%). Country of origin labelling was spontaneously mentioned by 11% of respondents.
- When comparing different aspects of a food label, respondents stated best before/use by date and price to be most important (55% and 54% respectively). Substantially fewer mentioned the country of origin label (11%).
Part 2: Importance/use of country of origin labelling:
- When asked, half of respondents (52%) reported looking for country of origin labelling. Of these respondents, the food products for which they most commonly used origin labelling were fruit and vegetables (69%), fresh meat (57%) and meat products (30%).
- Of those who looked for country of origin labelling, the most commonly cited reason for doing so was in order to buy British (34%). Those who did not look for origin labelling said they did not because they were not interested in it or it was not important to them (21% and 20% respectively).
- When asked, 45% of respondents said country of origin labelling was important to them.
- Fresh meat was the most commonly mentioned food that origin labelling should be used for (69%).
Part 3: Understanding/representation of country of origin labelling
- Half of respondents (54%) thought origin labelling, in relation to meat and meat products, was related to where the animal was farmed. Considerably fewer understood origin to reflect the place of last substantial change (12%).
- Half of respondents (51%) found the current definition of country of origin labelling for meat and meat products to be unsuitable and 14% were unsure as to its suitability. When asked what it should represent, the majority thought it should reflect where the animal was farmed (76%), while the place of last substantial change yielded the fewest responses (18%).