According to a new ‘St. David’s Day poll’ over half of UK consumers are concerned that food which is farmed to lower standards than home-produced fare might be imported after Brexit.
This was one of the top findings of a major opinion poll conducted by pollsters BMG Research on behalf of red meat levy board, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), in time for St. David’s Day – today 1st March.
53% of respondents to the poll, which consisted of a representative sample of 1,508 UK adults, said that they were somewhat or very concerned about the impact of Brexit on the quality of the food they eat, whereas only 8% were not at all concerned.
The research also showed that consumers appreciate the high standards to which food is produced in Britain. A similar 53% of the sample thought that sheep and beef farming in Wales had higher environmental standards than the global norm, with only 7% thinking it was lower. The question asked them to compare their perception of Welsh farming with that of other leading red meat producers, including New Zealand, Australia, the USA and South America.
HCC’s Chief Executive Gwyn Howells said: “This poll gives us a great insight into consumer perceptions on sheep and beef farming in Wales in the domestic UK market which could be so important after Brexit. It goes to show that the British public really is concerned about the food they eat and that quality is high on the agenda.
“Wales has a great story to tell. Livestock farming makes a valuable contribution to protecting our beautiful landscape and the public are obviously in tune with Welsh farmers’ environmental credentials. Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef also boast world-leading traceability, backed up by the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) scheme.”
Respondents were also asked what they think cows and sheep reared in Wales mostly eat. 79% correctly opted for grass rather than processed feeds. This supports the fact that PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef are produced extensively and predominantly on natural pasture, and reared to a high standard in terms of animal welfare by farmers who use traditional farming methods.
Gwyn Howells added: “The landscape and climatic conditions of Wales means it is one of the world’s most sustainable places to produce red meat. 80% of Wales’ landmass is primarily suited for livestock farming, and producers work tirelessly to maintain the landscape. They continue to adapt and introduce new practices to increase their environmental credentials.
“In the lead-up to Brexit, HCC is undertaking a wide range of promotional activities in the domestic market. This poll shows what a strong brand we have in Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, and consumers will be looking to retailers to ensure they continue to provide meat produced to the highest standards of welfare and sustainability.”