'Consumers say they'll buy more British meat, but take that with a grain of salt'

David Swales
David Swales
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Consumers might say in surveys that country of origin is important, but David Swales maintains that goes out the window in the shop

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) man said most UK consumers don't really see any difference between UK beef and Irish beef.

"They are seen as pretty comparable products - lots of beef would be sold as British and Irish such as with McDonald's," he said. "In supermarkets, you'd only see British or Irish on the shelves."

Swales (pictured) said there is a small proportion of people in every country who think what their local farmers do is the best in the world and that their beef is better quality.

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"Maybe 10pc or so would say 'I am going to buy this product because it's British' - the bulk of consumers see Irish as comparable," he said.

The AHDB has done research around perceptions on Irish versus British beef and the bulk of consumers see them as pretty much the same product.

"Since Brexit, there have been attitudinal-type surveys, which have indicated that people would buy more British products now, but I think you need to take that with a huge grain of salt," said Swales.

"We did our own research on the shoppers' decision making process, which looked at what shoppers said influenced their decisions and what they actually did in the store.

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"What was clear is that lots of people say that country of origin is really important, but when they get into the store, the importance of country of origin drops. Things like price and quality then come to the fore."

Swales said that from an Irish farmer perspective, what someone says to someone on an online survey can be very different to what happens when they get into the store.

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