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November 2018
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FOOD BUSINESSES OFFERED CHANCE TO CAPITALISE ON LOCAL FOOD GOLDMINE

Food producers and suppliers are today offered the chance to capitalise on the growing local food goldmine following publication of a new feasibility study. The study, produced by Bidwells Agribusiness on behalf of the South East Food Group Partnership, establishes the growing demand for regional food at both a consumer and buyer level, and the difficulties that impact on suppliers and customers undertaking more business together.

According to Bidwells’ research, two in three London consumers currently buys or would like to buy more local food. The report also concludes that there is not currently enough supply of local beef, lamb, fish, fruit and vegetables to satisfy demand, implying there are significant opportunities available to the region’s suppliers and producers, with similar scenarios likely in other UK conurbations.

Valuing the London demand at £9.3 billion annually, the Bidwells study suggests a number of ways in which producers and suppliers could capitalise on the growing consumer appetite for local food and regional food. The report also demonstrates how this might then stimulate more long-term support for the British food sector.

The report makes two main recommendations.

1. The development of a food hub to support the food sector in the regions around London (South East and East of England)
The hub should incorporate a virtual business to business e-marketplace to enable producers, suppliers, buyers and retailers to engage more directly, and at the same time provide a platform for promoting food to consumers, helping stimulate the long-term demand for local and regional food where it counts

The study reveals how nearly all food buyers and retailers surveyed want greater links to producers, easier sourcing, less hassle, and a one stop shop. Having a strong and (interactive) relationship with the producer is essential, but being able to undertake administrative transactions across a range of purchases in one place is of equal importance. The study outlines how the development of a hub is critical to link up this disjointed market place.

2. The development of 10 – 20 street markets across the Greater London area

These markets would act as local food beacons at key locations across Greater London, enabling markets to play a greater role in providing fresh regional food at local levels
Both recommendations illustrate how it is possible for Britain’s food sector to put in place the necessary infrastructure to foster greater market access through the supply chain as well as outlining a viable and attractive proposition to consumers. In the current climate, this is not an opportunity to be missed.

Richard Walters, head of food marketing at Bidwells, said: -The shift away from organic has increased the focus on regional and local food, and people now want to know their food is the freshest it can be and know where it comes from. In addition, the challenge of the recession means that people want to support their local community as best they can, from buying local food, to sustaining local shops.

Henriette Reinders, managing director for South East Food Group Ltd commented: -The report gives us a detailed analysis of the demand for local regional food in the capital. This will assist us in focusing our efforts linking suppliers in our region with the buyers in the capital. It also strengthens our work with regards the wholesale market, New Covent Garden Market, where we try to improve the take-up of regional produce as well as the initiatives we undertake with the fishing industry to get more local species into the UK supply chain. It is a key priority for us now to realise the virtual hub idea and work with street markets to offer more regional food.

Walters concluded: -Our research demonstrates the sheer scale of the opportunity available to producers and suppliers in the South East and, by implication, across the whole of the UK. Having explored the challenges, Bidwells is now on hand to help regional food businesses – producers, suppliers, buyers and retailers – start capitalising on them.

-Bidwells has a unique understanding of the UK local and regional food market which can help organisations – such as the South East Food Group Partnership – and local businesses prosper in these challenging times.

For a copy of the full report and the next steps, visit

www.southeastenglandfoodanddrink.co.uk/londonfoodhub

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