The data, from Beacon, a purchasing company within the hospitality, care and leisure sectors, found that more than half of UK diners would pay up to 10% extra for food if they knew it was made in Britain – and almost a quarter of people would be willing to spend an additional 25%.
In a boost for operators, who have been facing huge price hikes of up to 33% since the Brexit vote in June 2016, local produce was found to be one of the most important factors to respondents when deciding on where to dine out.
The importance of British produce was most prevalent among 25 to 34-year-olds, where more than two thirds of those canvassed in this age bracket said they would happily pay more for homegrown food.
Respondents were also asked to identify which food trends they were most excited about for the year ahead. Almost half voted for ‘Made in Britain’ – four times the amount of people who said veganism or vegetarian-based diets.
When asked to name their favourite dish, respondents plumped overwhelmingly in favour of British classics such as roast dinners (25%), fish and chips (11.9%) and steak and chips (10.2%).
This is in contrast to new data from CGA, which suggests that free-from foods were the biggest current trend in the UK.
Reacting to the news that consumers would be willing to pay more for dishes containing British ingredients, Alex Greig, owner of Fuggles Beer Café in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said: “Customers are becoming more aware of provenance and where their food and drink comes from. Local is something we all understand and it’s being pushed harder and harder, and has been for years.
“This, combined with greater awareness of how things are grown (or cared for, looked after in the case of animals in particular), means people are more willing to pay a little more if they know the story behind the product and it’s provenance.
“Combine that with growing awareness about environmental impacts with transport or food miles as it were and it’s all making people’s awareness of the cost a bit more real.”
Consumers 'willing to invest' at home
“Moreover, there’s just a huge quality gap between the cheaper, mass-produced products and what we can produce on our own soil,” Greig continued. “Ultimately, people are aware that the extra bit on top is not only worth it in terms of flavour and quality but it has a element of feeling good about supporting your local economy."
Beacon managing director Paul Connelly said: “In recent months, we’ve been managing price increases following turbulent times for many food and drink outlets since the Brexit vote. This is largely due to soaring costs for imported goods, which is great news for British producers.
“The amount of quality British products available to operators now is vast, so it is encouraging to see that consumers are willing to invest close to home and support British producers.
“While it’s important to promote diversity in the food market in order for it to flourish, it’s also vital that we, as an industry, support British growers and producers.
“Incorporating home-grown produce onto your menus will not only help to alleviate some of the significant price increases, but will also act as a selling point for customers, as well as supporting the UK economy.”