IF A post-Brexit trade deal allows imports of US products like chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef into British shops, nervous shoppers will cut down on all their meat purchases, new AHDB research has concluded.

More than half of 1000 people surveyed by YouGov said they would buy less chicken and beef in the event of US supplies hitting supermarket shelves. Although these US meat production practices are not currently allowed in EU member states, the research found that mixing with imported products could still reduce demand for domestic meat.

For chicken, just 28% of respondents said there would be no change at all to the amount they buy, while only 29% said that they would maintain total faith in home-produced beef.

By comparison, 83% of those surveyed said they would start paying more attention to labelling, while 81% would be concerned about quality and look more closely at the product. More than three quarters of shoppers said that they would also look more closely at production methods.

But separate AHDB research has shown that while people claim provenance, quality assurance marks and welfare standards are important to them, what influences them at point of purchase is different – ease, taste and price were found to be the key drivers in store.

AHDB's head of strategic insight, David Swales, said: “There is an argument that given clear labelling these products would offer consumers more choice but our research shows there is a distinct gap between what consumers say is important to them and what influences their purchase at the fixture. In addition, more than half of shoppers are unclear what current assurance marks actually mean. There is a danger that rather than try to fathom the labels, shoppers may lose confidence in the whole category.

“Also there’s the added complication that if we did import these products, domestically-produced meat would likely be at a disadvantage on price. As a key driver of shopper behaviour, there may be calls for these practices to be introduced in the UK to allow farmers to compete on a level playing field.”