Do customers care about where their food comes from? And do they understand what terms like, ‘local’, ‘sustainable’, or even ’organic’ means, or why they might be important?
While we are becoming a nation of health-conscious consumers when it comes to our food choices, we are also increasingly paying attention to aspects beyond cost and nutritional value, focusing more on where our food has originated. Many of us are also willing to pay extra for ethically sourced, healthier products; these are important factors influencing our purchasing decisions.
But how can customers be sure of the origin of the food they’re consuming?
As a producer of food or drink products, there are three European Union protection marks1 that can be applied for:
- Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) – states the product must be produced, processed or prepared in the geographical area the owner wants to associate it with.
- Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) – ensures the product must be produced, processed and prepared in one area, having distinct characteristics from this area.
- Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) – ensures the product must have a traditional name and characteristics that distinguish it from other similar products.
While these protections legally protect foodstuffs that are uniquely produced by a particular region or manufacturing process; they don’t offer consumers much in the way of information around sourcing and understanding specific ingredients.
As Global Food Security2 points out, a typical biscuit-based chocolate bar may contain sugar, cocoa, milk, whey, wheat, yeast, salt, palm oil and calcium sulphate, all of which could be sourced from around the world. The salt may come from China; calcium sulphate from India; palm oil from Southeast Asia; whey from New Zealand; milk and wheat from the EU; sugar from the Caribbean; and, cocoa from South America.
It's not just where our food comes from that’s important to us; how it’s grown is becoming a significant priority. According to the Soil Association’s, Organic Market Report3, consumers are switching to organic because it offers ‘greater assurance of higher animal welfare standards, contains fewer pesticides with no added artificial additives or chemicals, and is better for the planet’.
The UK organic market continues to grow, with almost £45 million a week spent on organic in the UK3. These alternatives meet consumer demand for less packaging and products from sustainable farming sources, while rapidly growing consumer demand is also driving increased availability of organic ranges in the catering and restaurant sector.
How can Retailers and Food Outlets Support Customers who are Passionate About Where Their Food Comes From, and how it was Produced?
Consider introducing, or expanding your ‘free-from’ and organic options into your product ranges. Top-selling organic products3 are now driven by healthy food trends, which include flavoured teas, healthy cereals, supplements and specialist drinks.
Look for suppliers that produce food using ethical processes. For example, Sustain4, the alliance for better food and farming, suggests sustainable food is produced, processed, distributed and disposed of in ways that:
- Contribute to local economies and sustainable livelihoods both in the UK and, in the case of imported products, in producer countries.
- Protect the diversity of both plants and animals and the welfare of farmed and wild species.
- Avoids damaging or wasting natural resources or contributing to climate change.
- Provide social benefits, such as good quality food, safe and healthy products, and educational opportunities.
- The Soil Association3 estimates there are between 800 and 1,000 independent shops and smaller chains selling and promoting organic products in the UK. These include delis,
- health stores, specialist butchers, bakers, greengrocers and food halls in high-end stores. Explore the option to source your products from one of these local outlets.
If you run a food and drink outlet, think about designing menus that focus on seasonal produce that’s locally sourced. Tell your customers where your food has come from; be transparent about your ingredients and your suppliers.
Maybe you’re serving culinary delights to fine diners, dishing up Sunday pub lunches, or offering afternoon tea, whatever type of establishment you run and wherever you’re sourcing your products from, it’s still important to take time to protect against risks and hazards. Comprehensive food and drink insurance gives you peace of mind, protecting you, your customers, and your reputation.
To find out more about our specialised food and drink insurance cover, or to obtain a quote for your business, contact smei today on 0330 134 4564.