More restaurant diners than ever now want to know the origin of the meat they eat, according to the latest research commissioned by the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC).
A national opinion poll of 1,000 respondents found that 61% of diners wanted to know where meat eaten outside the home came from, compared with just 55% two years ago.
When asked how they would like to be told, more than 80% said they would either like to see the origin marked on the menu, or to see an easily recognised symbol.
Tony Goodger, foodservice trade manager at the MLC, said many branded chains felt that only fine-dining customers cared about the source of their meat, whereas research showed that people in lower-income brackets cared most. Goodger believed this was because it was harder for them to obtain this information from the type of restaurants they frequent.
He said McDonald's recent move to list the origins of all its ingredients "is the clearest indicator yet that consumer concern in this area is growing".
The Restaurant Group (formerly City Centre Restaurants) is working with the Food Standards Agency on how it could best apply origin-marking to its menus, which are currently printed once a year.
"Our supply can change more regularly than that," said a spokeswoman, "so it is quite a difficult job, without reprinting the menus every three or four weeks."
Merfyn Walters, acting manager at the 40-seat Inn at the Elm Tree in Newport, Pembrokeshire, said that sourcing was very important in Wales. "It gives an important advantage to everyone to promote local produce and local farming," he said.
The survey also showed that 89% of respondents believed that it was important to label vegetarian dishes. In addition to this, 83% wanted to know whether dishes contained genetically modified ingredients and 79% sought information on organic ingredients.