I suspect in a poll directed at a general rather than a beery audience wine would have topped the poll, as in the vast majority of cases the country of origin is a key part of its identity. On the other hand, a substantial proportion of the beer sold in the UK is actually foreign brands brewed here under licence and, as I reported here, the average drinker of Carlsberg, Stella or San Miguel is well aware that his beer isn’t actually brewed in the country associated with the name, and isn’t really that bothered. The higher you go up the premium scale, though, the more consumers would be unhappy that an ostensibly Belgian or US brand wasn’t actually produced in that country.
This works on several different levels, for example
- Expecting a basic standard of honesty about where products come from so consumers are not being deliberately misled
- A badge of authenticity and integrity in the supply chain
- Choosing products from a particular country because of specific national characteristics
- Wanting to favour particular countries and avoid the produce of others for “political” reasons, whether preferring goods from your own country or boycotting those from countries that for whatever reason you don’t like
The regulations covering food labelling are extremely complex and, looking through my cupboards, while most packaged foodstuffs do seem to show the country of origin, some, such as chocolate bars and a jar of pickle, don’t. That a company has a UK address does not guarantee UK production. The bottle of HP sauce admits to being “made in the Netherlands”, but has that damaged sales? In fact, supermarket own brands seem to do better on this front than branded goods. While I’m not a regular buyer, I recall that supermarket own-brand beers, even bog-standard Tesco Lager, state in which country they are brewed.