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Consumers concerned at growing reliance on imported food 19 September 2005

    A recent survey by DAFF identified that Manx consumers place increasing importance on the implications of “food miles” when they are buying food. Manx consumers rated this as one of the most important aspects of their food buying decision and significantly more important in their choice than the exact price of the product.

    Food miles is a term used to represent the increasing distances travelled by food from “plough to plate”.

    Minister for Agriculture, Phil Gawne, comments, “There is a growing awareness amongst the Island’s consumers of the hidden cost of transporting food great distances. This burns irreplaceable fuel and causes pollution, leading to global warming.”

    He continues, “The result of increasing food miles through greater reliance on imported food is highlighted in a recent UK report, "Chief Medical Officer annual report 2004, A fresh look, realigning food procurement in the public sector".

    It estimated that every £10 spent in supermarkets generates only £14 for the local economy, whilst £10 spent on local food initiatives generates around £25 for the local economy.”

    He adds, “Our choice of food today is wide, and we can appreciate a range of produce from all round the world. However, we shouldn’t overlook the consequences of buying food not produced in the Isle of Man, and we certainly shouldn’t overlook our homegrown, top quality produce. We can help to reduce food miles by taking advantage of Manx produce.”

    “Against the evidence we have gathered of increasing consumer desire for local food, it is disappointing to hear that Tesco have decided to stop buying our top quality local Manx flour for use in their in-house bakery, apparently choosing instead to import frozen dough, which is subsequently baked and sold as fresh product.”

    Choosing Manx produce means fewer food miles. Food is fresher, has been handled less, and isn’t adding to the burden of pollution and using irreplaceable fossil fuels.

    The farming industry is responsible for the appearance of 80% of the Manx landscape. By supporting Manx produce, we can help to maintain the Island’s attractive environment, as well as enjoy good quality, fresh food.

    The DAFF survey was undertaken by DAFF staff during August 2005, involving a total of 124 individuals completing questionnaires.

    19th September 2005

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