Consumers do not trust the food they eat and are no longer prepared to sacrifice quality for low prices, outspoken Michelin-star chef Raymond Blanc has warned the industry.
Speaking to The Grocer prior to his American Food Revolution food festival being held next month at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, the chef attacked the government’s intensive farming policy for fostering demand for low prices.
“There’s been a manipulation of consumers, making them believe they can have cheap food. But they’ve not been told the whole story. Now they want to know more,” he said.
“There’s a growing awareness that cheap food is not cheap and it should not be reduced to a convenience satisfying only the primary need.”
Blanc blamed cheap pricing policies for turning food into an irrelevance. But he argued that it was too easy just to blame supermarket policies.
He applauded the huge choice of produce available in UK supermarkets as well as the advances they had made with local sourcing.
However, he said the multiples shared a collective responsibility to rebuild the UK’s lost understanding of food and improve food traceability and labelling. “The food chain is the number one issue. We need to introduce more integrity to UK cuisine. People don’t want peaches that are picked green and put into a pack pumped with gas, then three months later pumped with gas again.”
Picking up on the theme of the festival, at which a summit of top chefs will debate the key issues affecting the food and drink industry, Blanc said there was much to learn from the way the US had reinvigorated its cuisine. “The Americans are making their own brand of gastronomy that reflects their multicultural society.”
Liz Hamson