AUSTRALIAN consumers want good quality, fresh, Aussie food.
And they don't want to pay much for it.
That was the overriding theme at last week's inaugural Agtalks, at which an expert panel debated what consumers wanted from the produce they eat.
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The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry event, hosted by ABC radio, found household budgets often overrode the desire to eat locally produced quality food.
Coles merchandise director John Durkan said Australians were taking more interest in where their food came from. But they still shopped for groceries on a tight budget.
"Our research, and from what we hear when we talk to customers, is they really care where their food comes from," Mr Durkan said.
"What they expect is that it's good value, it's not overpriced and that they can afford to feed their families with it.
"Sadly, they are not willing to pay more than they have to."
Fresh logic director Steve Spencer said there seemed to be a difference between how Australians said they shopped and how they actually did.
"I think there is quite a difference between actual behaviour," Mr Spencer said. "When they're rushing through to pick up a basket of things ... for that night's meal, they don't stop and pause and consider things that are actually going in there.
"Convenience is a strong driver ... I think people trade off value with ethical considerations and convenience."
Biological Farmers Australia chairman Andrew Monk told the forum trust was important for consumers.
He expected interest in food production to keep growing.
"I think what we will find in Australia is a ... growing awareness of how food is produced," Dr Monk said.
"There will be a growing movement of people saying, 'I don't want my food tinkered with'.
"Whether they will pay for it is another thing."
Mr Spencer said educating consumers about the effects on farming communities of buying things such as $1-a-litre milk and cheaper imported produce was important.