The study by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) found that seven out of ten British consumers prefer to buy local or regional food but only one in ten cite country of origin as a major concern when visiting the supermarket.
The report clearly illustrates a gap between consumers' attitudes and actions. If retailers explore how British food could be better marketed to fit key purchasing drivers more effectively, the desire to buy local foods may improve, they say.
The IGD surveyed 1000 adults from a cross-section of society and found that although 87 per cent consider farming to be important to British countryside and 48 per cent agree that British food is of a higher standard, 30 per cent are still reluctant to buy local if it is more expensive.
In addition to price the survey identified other key drivers such as appearance, sell-by-date, brand, and health that all impact heavily on shoppers' purchasing patterns.
Stimuli carrying general appeal including seasonality, heritage and environment are cited as an important base for marketing strategies.
The 'Beaujolais effect' - celebrations based around the new season's availability - could be more effectively promoted to encourage consumers to buy British. And a 'use it or lose it' campaign, concentrating on the idea that farmers are countryside guardians, may also change consumer habits.
The survey results add weight to recent consumer trends for visiting farmers' markets and seeking out local organic seasonal foods, as promoted by celebrity chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Growing awareness of food-miles may also help bolster interest in local produce but retailers need to capitalise on these trends in order to bridge the gap between consumers' attitudes and actions.