Sir: Now is the time to connect consumers with their food and milk (‘4.3 million promise to switch to support dairy protestors’, 28 July).
Why isn’t the food system sustainable? It’s a difficult question with no easy answer. But one thing we are convinced of is that we need to reconnect people with their food.
More often than not, consumers have little idea where it comes from or how it makes its way to supermarkets. This means people don’t value their food, want the cheapest price, and then ultimately throw a third of it away. It is the demand for cheap food that has put unacceptable pressure on UK farmers, and on dairy farmers in particular.
Right now, the dairy crisis is generating public support. In The Grocer’s recent poll, 19% of consumers said that they would change where they buy milk to support British farms. Is this evidence that increasing understanding of how products are made can change consumer behaviour? Cynics would say consumers will never pay more for a pint of milk in the current economic climate. But just look at UK Fairtrade sales, which increased by 12% from 2010 to 2011 - it shows what is possible.
So, it’s time to stop assuming consumers don’t care about where their food comes from and will never pay a fair price. Instead, let’s help people reconnect with their food, and do the right thing for UK dairy at the same time.
Dr Sally Uren, deputy chief executive, Forum for the Future