The majority of consumers asked believe farmers are underpaid for their produce, and 92% think businesses should shoulder the responsibility for making food fair and sustainable.
Respondents were also willing to pay more for food produced using environmentally-friendly methods.
“Whilst two-thirds (65%) believe that responsibly produced food is more expensive, 58% would be willing to pay more if they knew products were delivering a better price and fairer wages for farmers and workers, closely followed by environmentally-friendly food production at 53%,” GlobeScan said of its report.
Brits are sending companies and the government a strong message that fairer, greener and more sustainable food production must be the priority, said Michael Gidney, CEO, Fairtrade Foundation.
“Progressive, responsible businesses will want to respond to their customers’ desire to see them treat farmers and workers fairly,” he added.
“And the public’s views on the importance of ensuring the human rights of farmers and workers is a clear sign to the government to prioritise these issues and improve working conditions across supply chains.”
Abbie Curtis, Senior Project Manager at GlobeScan said: “This research shows very clearly that British consumers expect businesses and government to take action to ensure the fairness and long-term sustainability of food production, both here at home and in developing countries. It is important for retailers and food companies, alongside government, to respond to this and take appropriate steps towards meeting these expectations.”
The survey follows an MEP draft resolution to the Commission urging it to tackle unfair trading practices.
UK retailers also recently came under the firing line for marketing which could be seen as misleading shoppers to believe they were buying locally farmed produce, when in fact it was imported from overseas.
The online survey ran from 30th May to 6th June 2016 with 1,004 respondents with varying backgrounds, age and gender.
The team also found that willingness to pay more was higher for households with bigger incomes, yet still over 51% of lower income shoppers were happy to pay more for fair food.
However, despite the fact consumers connected today’s low prices with unsustainable food production, many did not realise that cost cutting could affect food sustainability, namely the fact products could become less available or pricier in future.
“Looking forward, the link between current low prices and future availability of food is less clear to many – 43% of British consumers make this connection and the remaining majority either do not agree or are unsure,” the research team added.
The main demographics with a keen sense of what low cost groceries could mean for the future of food security were women and younger shoppers aged between 18 – 34 with “more education” on the matter.
“Overall, female consumers are more in tune with the issues and the need for action compared to their male counterparts,” the team noted.