The fragility of the UK economy and the wider environment was thrust firmly in the spotlight recently with the “petrol crisis” and a shortage of HGV drivers. The impact of Brexit continues to send shockwaves throughout the country in all industries, and farmers aren’t immune. A lack of butchers working in the UK now means the country faces a mass cull of pigs on farms that are supplying the big supermarkets.
Larger retailers are naturally more exposed to problems due to their centralised system and long supply chains. It means that it’s harder for them to mitigate situations such as shortages of drivers, butchers, processors, and so on.
We are working with independent, small scale providers, like ourselves, to build a more robust food system.
This network within which we operate keeps us resilient, means we have choice if we need to make last-minute changes, and gives us the personal edge – we can ring around and sort things last minute; a luxury that bigger retailers just don’t have.
Time and again at Farm2Fork we are reminded of the benefits of selling direct. By maintaining good relationships with our butchers and suppliers, selling straight to the customer, and having overall control, it means that we can take away a lot of the unknown factors that influence the bigger retailers and those who are part of longer supply chains.
We’ve proved that our model works – that our aim is not to feed the world, but to feed a few, well. And if this model was replicated and strengthened then we would face fewer disasters and unforeseen issues in times of uncertainty.
We work with other small independent family businesses, so we know each step of the way who is doing what. We also keep tight control on our produce. It is, quite literally, a farm to fork process. If we have a problem with our butchers, we can head it off at the pass. If we have a problem with transport, we can sort that too.
Already thousands of pigs have been slaughtered on farms across the country because of a lack of abattoir staff, and there are issues facing poultry farmers too. This is any farmer’s worst nightmare, but for those who are supplying one of the large supermarkets, their options are limited unless the government steps in.
Fortunately for us here at Farm2Fork we can plan ahead and make sure we have the relevant services in place so that hopefully, we are one step ahead.
Our independence and small-scale method of farming helps to enforce a resilient food system. If more consumers supported small producers and retailers, then this system would further be strengthened.
If we can stay aware of what is happening beyond the farm – then we can weather the storms that lie ahead.