Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss said that local labelling – such as showing which farm or county a product was from – would help consumers take pride in buying British food and promote support for the rural economy.
A YouGov survey carried out in April this year showed that nearly 80% of Brits see buying local food as a top priority, with vegetables (51%) and meat (40%) came out top for products that consumers would prefer to buy local.
The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) calculated this to be a potential €14.3 bn (£10.5 bn) injection to the local economy.
But the same YouGov survey found only 30% of respondents had actually bought any local produce in the past week.
'Made in Yorkshire'
Truss said: “Food and drink is at the heart of British life – from top-quality seafood from the Yorkshire coast, to traditional cheeses from Cornwall and delicious gin distilled in the heart of London.
“Our one nation government is doing more than ever to support British farmers and producers by creating the right environment for these small businesses to flourish. This means supporting better country of origin labelling to ensure shoppers can get behind our British farmers and building better broadband and transport links so it’s as easy to open and expand a business in Cornwall as it is in Camden.”
Truss also called for more take-up of the industry-led voluntary principles of country of origin labelling, which give additional information for meat regarding where the animal was born and reared, and also apply to lightly processed meat products such as sausages, bacon and burgers.
UK industry trade group, the Food and Drink Federation, said: “Food and drink manufacturers are an essential partner to British farmers. The latest figures show that over half of the UK food supply is domestically grown.
“Businesses in the UK food and drink supply chain have worked with Defra to develop voluntary principles on country of origin labelling (COOL) which build on the current legislation and aim to provide clearer labelling for consumers.
Last week Italy’s government approved a bill which would see food manufacturers required to say which factory a product was produced and packaged in – a move which Maurizio Martina would ensure transparency and consumer protection, but which was slammed by critics as a way of sneaking in protectionist measures.