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LAMMA 2021

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From the editor: Golden opportunity for farming to retain consumer connection

Consumers, it would appear, have rediscovered their love of local produce in lockdown. Whether it is the commitment to buy more local food, or the resurgence of the humble milkman and doorstep delivery, there certainly seems to have been a sea change since March of this year.

Speaking to wholesale butchers at the height of lockdown, they equated trade back in spring to being more akin to Christmas levels. Milk rounds, too, were also seeing a surge in demand as people looked more closely at where their food was coming from and how they sourced it.

 

But while more consumers are clearly taking a greater interest in provenance and are matching this with their levels of spending, the challenge for farming is how it retains that spend longer term and maintains the levels of interest seen in 2020.

 

Part of this could come down to marketing products better than in the past.

 

A report from an AHDB seminar alludes to the need for products such as British beef to be marketed more vigorously, although doubts remain about where that spend should come from within the supply chain.


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That also changes the focus for farming. With many in the industry essentially commodity producers, it could require a change in mindset for farming to proactively start marketing itself; something which will continue to be a hot topic for the next incumbent of the AHDB hotseat once chief executive Jane King departs the levy board.

 

While it might be encouraging that more people are looking to rural areas for food, homes and leisure, the realities of poor infrastructure in areas such as broadband and transport mean the rural dream is not always what people expect.

 

How the power of our rural brand is harnessed for the long term good of agricultural and the countryside is certainly going to be a lively debate in the coming years, but it will need backing at all levels, especially from governments, if there is to be realism behind images of the rural dream.

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