Ben Aveling is the owner of Radmore Farm Shop, Cambridge.
Will businesses like mine benefit from more expensive imports driving consumers to shop more locally? This is a question I find I am being asked a lot recently on the back of Brexit.
This is not new though; every change in economic circumstances, scandal from abroad or TV chef documentary featuring food miles, brings this subject to the forefront again.
A few years ago, the horsemeat scandal led to a whirlwind of panic and suspicion at imported processed meat products, and professions of never buying from outside our shores again. But did it really change things once the hype subsided? Not noticeably from our business’ perspective.
This time things seem a bit different though. I have been lucky enough to be involved in a large part of the chain of production in the 10 years I have been running Radmore Farm Shop. My wife’s family were farmers on the same farm since the 1930s.
When I came onto the scene, the farm had about 202 hectares (500 acres) of cereal growing land and were in the process of cutting down their pig enterprise. We scaled right back and started to process and retail our home-grown meats, free-range eggs and potatoes from the farm.
We then opened a retail outlet in my old stomping ground of Cambridge to get out to more customers. Opening a shop in the city really threw me in at the deep end; teaching me how the food chain works and how consumers shop and make their choices.
It also allowed me to meet, and stock the produce of, lots of other farmers and producers and learn from them what their part of the industry is like.
The main thing I have noticed changing in my 10 years running Radmore Farm Shop is our nation is getting better. Consumers are buying a more diverse range of products than ever, things we had not heard of 10 years ago are now staple products to us.
Britain is now doing us proud at keeping up with consumers’ increasing demands. Greek dips, French cheeses, Spanish tapas, the list is endless of things which have arrived in this country, been taken on by artisan British producers and are being delivered back to consumers in a delicious, fresh and home-grown version.
As we speak, I am crafting my own version of continental charcuterie on my Northamptonshire farm using home-grown meats.
So why do things seem different this time and will people steer away from foreign imports? I hope so, because now more than ever we have the goods on offer to tempt shoppers to stay local after the hype dies down.