Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Professor David Hughes (A 58)


    —  two most important factors influencing nature of food products on the retail shelf in 2010 are household disposable income (will it grow as in the past?), and technology (often, developed outside the food industry but having an enormous impact on this industry; eg micro-wave oven technology coming via the space industry);

    —  current consumer megatrends are:

      —  household demographics (various);

      —  well-being and health;

      —  convenience (directly linked to demographics);

      —  food for use other than fuel (eg pleasure, status);

    —  clearly price is an important determinant when shopping, but, it depends on the shopper. Other attributes of food products (other than low price) include:

      —  taste;

      —  appearance;

      —  provenance;

      —  more esoteric aspects relating to animal welfare, environment and fair trade;

      —  safety (via QA);

      —  organic, (a manifestation of the concern about safety);

      —  ingredients and their impact on health etc.

    —  easy to focus on supermarkets, but, "traditional" supermarkets losing "share of stomach" to other and emerging routes to the consumer;

    —  international trends? Northern Europe very similar to us. Developing countries, however, will depend on income level and income growth rate. If both are moving upwards, then, more meat consumption in prospect—implication is that there will be increased pressure on international meat and feed grain supplies.

25 January 2002

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