The filter would direct shoppers to homegrown food to help boost the economy and cut the UK’s carbon footprint. The chief executives of eight major supermarkets were copied into the letter, which echoes a long-standing NFU ask dating back to 2017, when it raised the idea with the then-Defra Minister George Eustice.
Following repeated calls from the NFU, the public and most recently more than 110 MPs, the Defra Secretary of State has also announced her support on Back British Farming Day for industry-led action to signpost customers to ‘buy British’ when they shop online.
The call to provide shoppers with easier means of identifying British produce was also featured in the NFU’s British Food: Leading the Way report in 2021.
If you agree this is a good idea, please add your name to show supermarkets that shoppers want the option to buy British food online.
Responding to the new push led by Conservative MP for Bosworth Dr Luke Evans, NFU President Minette Batters said: “We have been asking retailers to commit to signposting British produce for a number of years, so it’s great to see MPs and their constituents getting behind the idea of a ‘buy British tab’ online.
“We know from our own independent survey that 86% of the public want to buy more British food, but it is often tricky to determine what products are produced in the UK and this simple change would help shoppers do that.”
“It is often tricky to determine what products are produced in the UK and this simple change would help shoppers do that."
NFU President Minette Batters
Open letter signatories include former Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, Climate Minister Graham Stuart and members of the Commons’ EFRA Committee. The letter was signed by representatives from all the main political parties in England and Wales.
“British farmers work hard all year round to ensure our nation’s food security, are crucial in supporting strong local economies and have been instrumental in preserving and protecting our environment,” the letter said.
It added that the “small change” would give “customers greater autonomy over their food choices” and could boost seasonal eating.
Outside of their overall sourcing policies, most major supermarkets do not yet have a ‘buy British’ function across their food ranges, although the Sainsbury’s and Waitrose sites have sections for seasonal British produce on their fruit and vegetables page. Sainsbury’s also allows shoppers to select British meat and fish at a click. Ocado has a ‘Best of British’ page.
Online food labelling – the story so far
Dr Luke Evans MP takes the lead
The NFU briefed Dr Luke Evans about online labelling. The campaign has since gathered more than 110 signatories.
NFU launches British Food: Leading the Way report
In our British Food: Leading the Way report NFU President Minette Batters called for “an improved way for customers to choose the origin of product when shopping online” – such as a 'Buy British' button or filter for online food purchases.
During February 2022, we also launched our British Farming: A Blueprint for the Future report where we called on the government to “support for an improved way for customers to choose the origin of product when shopping online – such as a “Buy British” button or filter for online food purchases”.
MPs are briefed
The NFU briefed MPs on online shopping and labelling and asked for the same level of origin labelling on products online as can be found in-store.
YouGov survey reveals public support for more labelling information online
The NFU commissioned a survey by YouGov that revealed 81% of UK adults think that online food retailers should provide the same amount of information about the product’s country of origin on the website as there is on the food packaging in store.
Other key findings include:
- Around 64% said they would find it helpful to have the option to view British online produce when sopping online
- Most consider the 'Country of Origin' labelling information to be clear on certain products – namely milk, cheese and eggs – but find it less clear when displayed for processed products
- 64% said they look out for British produce when shopping
Buy British filter debated in Westminster
There was a Westminster hall debate on ‘Food labelling’ where Rebecca Pow echoed our asks to Defra Minister George Eustice: “Could consideration be given to a button to press when doing an online shop to enable people to choose from just British produce?"
George Eustice responded: “We are discussing that with the National Farmers Union.”
MPs kick off discussions
The NFU briefed MPs on online labelling and made recommendations including a filter which would give online customers the ability to select British through a button.
The campaign begins
The NFU launches an online labelling campaign to allow shoppers to be able to identify British food more easily when doing their online food shop.