Diners were increasingly concerned about the origin of their food when eating out, compared with purchases made in supermarkets, according a survey carried out by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Pork.
More than half of the 2,000 consumers quizzed by AHDB said they were concerned about the provenance of their meat when eating out. Over 65% said they wanted foodservice venues to stock higher levels of British meat.
Pubs and restaurants could attract significantly more customers by stating on their menus where their meat came from, it said.
“Traditionally, foodservice hasn’t been a great supporter of British pig farmers," chief executive of the meat trade body the National Pig Association (NPA) Zoe Davies said. “Many outlets preferred to buy imported products at the lowest possible price, rather than consider quality and issues such as food miles, animal welfare and traceability.
‘McDonald’s demonstrating sense’
“But now the world’s most successful restaurant chain, McDonald’s, is demonstrating it makes good business sense to source British pork, because that’s what customers want, particularly since horsegate.”
The research also showed 55% of consumers believed it was important to know where the meat served out-of-home came from.
More than half (52%) of those asked said British produce on the menu was important and 57% said high animal welfare meat on menus was also important.
The results highlighted a marked change in consumer attitude following earlier research by the Oxford Partnership in conjunction with AHDB, which showed provenance wasn’t high on consumers’ agenda when eating meat out of home.
Davies said: “We welcome the change in attitude, which has been spearheaded by a few highly-respected big players in foodservice, such as McDonald’s.”
Concern about meat provenance was raised at the Publican’s Morning Advertisers' most recent MA300 event in Newcastle.
Pub chefs were urged to replace imported meat with alternative British cuts by the managing director of butchers Aubrey Allen Russel Allen.
Increasing global demand
Allen acknowledged that meat prices were rising due to increasing global demand. However, there were tasty and affordable alternative cuts available to pub chefs, which meant there was no excuse not to buy British.
More than 50% of the pork used in the foodservice sector was imported, along with 50% of the bacon used in British pubs, he claimed.
“80% of steaks come from countries such as Botswana, the Ukraine and Brazil where their rearing standards are not as good as they are in Britain,” Allen said.
“Do you think that customers will beat paths to our doors for products that are not better than they can get from supermarkets?”
Instead, pub chefs should champion British produce and meat and, if they couldn’t afford expensive cuts, then they should try cheaper, but tasty, alternatives such as the spider steak or the bistro fillet, he added.