Food Provenance (Part 2) - Farmers
Last week, we gave a short introduction with assumptions about the issues surrounding food provenance and the current attitudes of consumer demographics. In the rest of this six week blog series on food provenance, we will now explore the part people involved in the food production and retail lifecycle have to play in changing our values towards food provenance.
Specifically this week we will be speaking about farmers, particularly British farmers, and the pressures they’re under. As a rule of thumb the early takeaway is if we continue to not care about the local sourcing of our food, British farmers will simply go out of business.
With the growth of travel and quick ease of importing food, we’ve become huge consumers of international produce. It is worth noting that the UK is less than 60 per cent self-sufficient for food and for some products less than 20 per cent. This means while the demand for produce from abroad is rising and we are making it difficult for some of the smaller farming communities to survive. They cannot compete on an international level and demand for their produce here in the UK is declining.
With the rise of multinational supermarket chains that we have gladly supported, we as the consumers have put the majority of the trade buying power into the hands of a few. Unfortunately this means they can easily often dictate pricing of the produce they buy from farmers which puts a huge strain on farmers to make a healthy margin / living. Unfortunately for the consumer, this is reflected in the cheap prices we can attain produce for in the shops but is it worth it?
Route to market
In a similar context to the point above, farmers no longer have a choice on who to sell through. Over the years, there has been a decline in the number of traditional greengrocers and butchers while there is a continued rise in the number of chain supermarkets and convenience stores. While the traditional butcher may have given fairer price for the produce they sold in store, farmers now have no choice than to sell directly (which is rare) or to the conglomerates at a more competitive price.
One of our vendors ‘CABOOSE’ only order the highest quality meat from British farmers:
“We care deeply about the provenance of our meat and the welfare of the animals, as such all our meat is ethically sourced, free range, and locally sourced wherever possible.”
Our next blog in the series: Food Provenance - Distribution