Farm shops have become really popular in recent years, boosted by an increasingly food-savvy and environmentally aware public, farmers looking to improve their profits and reconnect with the consumer, and of course the odd food scare.
After the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic left many supermarket shelves bare, and with home delivery slots hard to come by, many people are now opting for their local farm shop as a more relaxed, socially acceptable way of buying fresh food.
People are asking more questions about where their food comes from, with a notable preference for British food. There’s also a huge increase in the number of people who want their food to be ethically raised and free from chemicals and antibiotics.
Although we rarely hear the phrase “food Miles” anymore, “Locally produced” is increasingly important to many people. How can it make sense to ship lamb from New Zealand and Australia, when we can raise sheep in the UK?
The most successful farm shops at the moment are those offering a ‘full basket shop’, which includes everything you need for a weekly shop, realistically though, most of us rely on the supermarkets for our essentials and buy our treats from the farm shops.
The farm shops that have done best are the ones that have introduced online shopping.
In fact we have found that of the many farm shops that have shut their doors in the last 3 years not a single one had an online offering.
So, people want to buy online, that’s not news. But they don’t always expect a full eCommerce site. Many farm shops have introduced a hybrid system where customers can fill out their shopping list online, email or make phone call and staff will pick it and pack the order ready to “Click and collect” in the car park.
This is particularly true of farms producing Christmas turkeys, geese, and other seasonal items.
The UK Government has made taxpayer money available for farmers to connect directly to their customers, to set up direct sales operations, and to set up online stores.
This is great news for all of us and we should make the most of this new opportunity to support British farmers and eat ourselves and our plant healthier.