Retailers favour Irish products but value is key, survey

Buying Irish has increased in importance, however value is still key for consumers, according to a recent survey of 100 of Ireland’s leading grocery retailers by Checkout magazine and the forthcoming trade show, Food and Hospitality Ireland.

The industry survey examined retailers’ opinions on the importance of buying Irish. An overwhelming 94 per cent said that buying Irish is still important to their customers, with 75 per cent of respondents saying that the trend has increased in importance over the past two years. Some 80 per cent of retailers said they are now proactively sourcing more Irish products than ever before.

Price

However, while buying Irish is important, price is still the core focus for consumers. When asked “In the eyes of the consumer, which is most important – provenance or price?”, 83 per cent said price, with just 17 per cent opting for provenance.

The commonly held perception that Irish brands are more expensive than their international counterparts is also shared by retailers, with 73 per cent of respondents agreeing with the statement “Irish brands cost more than international brands”.

Partnering with the food, retail and hospitality expo, Food & Hospitality Ireland (taking place on the 18-19 September at the RDS) Checkout Magazine conducted the survey via its Retail Intelligence e-newsletter in July/August.

Produce

Checkout Magazine editor Steve Wynne Jones said: “Price is certainly a major factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions, however retailers are clearly seeing the benefit of stocking Irish produce. According to the survey, 70 per cent of retailers are planning to increase the number of Irish products that are stocked in their stores.

“For Irish brands, the challenge is to find a balance – and offer quality products at competitive prices. Price is still king, but both retailers and consumers recognise the contribution of Irish brands and produce to our economy. It seems that if the price is right, the majority of consumers will choose to buy Irish.”

The survey also found that the category in which retailers feel ‘buying Irish’ is of most benefit is in that of fresh meat.

Surveyed just six months after the horsemeat crisis, over four-fifths of retailers (82 per cent) said that provenance is most important in the Fresh Meat category. Provenance is also important in the Fresh Fruit & Vegetables, however only 9 per cent of respondents deem it most important.

“Consumer behaviour has evidently changed since the horsemeat revelations and consumers are now actively sourcing traceable meat products,” said Tim Graham, general manager of Irish Services Montgomery.

“The Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland is one of the partners for Food and Hospitality Ireland, and this will be welcome news for the organisation’s 400 plus members.  At Food and Hospitality Ireland 2013, the Craft Butchers Association is staging its annual awards and delivering meat cutting demonstrations – all to celebrate and educate visitors on the traditional Irish craft of butchery.”

Pictured is a preview slideshow of the forthcoming Food & Hospitality Ireland Exhibition taking place in the RDS next week

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