Marketing

All farmers need to sell their produce and produce that is grown to the highest standards with the greatest care is always liable to cost more, and needs especially appreciative buyers. Enlightened Agriculture needs to be embedded within a correspondingly enlightened food culture – as discussed in section 7. Between the agriculture and the culture, and part of both, sits marketing.

In the West, especially in Britain and the US, and increasingly in the world as a whole, the supermarkets dominate the whole food chain: Wal-Mart in the US: Carrefour in France: Tesco in Britain.  Farmers and the processors are obliged to do what the supermarkets tell them. Because the supermarkets have such power, they cannot be ignored, or dismissed a priori. But it surely is a mistake to regard them as the only game in town, as if their dominance was inevitable. It surely is an even greater mistake to regard the deal with the supermarket as the ultimate goal, and as the sign of “arrival”, as many a small producer seems to have done.  At best, surely, the deal with the supermarket is a short-term expedient.

For the point of the modern supermarket, like any other business in the neoliberal economy, is to maximize returns to the shareholders. The most successful are the corporates, operating globally. They reduce costs by playing producers off against each other – always driving the hardest possible bargain; and they maximize income by subtle pricing and by broadening their range to increase the dependency of customers. It is not their task truly to care either for the producers or for their customers; their job and indeed their duty is to minimize their own costs and maximize their returns. To achieve economies of scale and standardize their products they need to buy in bulk, to a precise specification. They need industrial farmers, in short – the bigger the better. They can buy from small-scale producers only as a concession. But enlightened farms must be small-scale.

Common sense alone, then, plus a large body of experience, suggests that we need to create a whole new marketing chain, geared specifically both to Enlightened Agriculture and to the new food culture. To some extent this may require quite new approaches. But perhaps in the main we simply need to re-create the kind of distribution and retail chains that over the past 30 years have been systematically trashed, and to learn from other precedents. In general, the food chain clearly needs to be far shorter but also probably more diverse – re-incorporating the traditional trades, including the many arts of the butchers and bakers, that have been sucked into the supermarkets. Overall, the possibilities are endless but the problems are huge. For the College, marketing must be a key concern.

Allotments “selling” produce to local shops

It’s called Crop for the Shop, and has been started by Anthony Davison of BigBarn.  Its aim: to get more people growing their own produce and selling surplus to local food … Read on

Dairy Miles

Simon Fairlie examines how it is that UK dairy farming has got into its current mess; and looks at some alternatives, including micro-dairies and vending machines. Dairy Miles is published with … Read on

Food distribution and retail for small farms and local food: US leads the way

Matthew Yeomans (Guardian October 8 2012) describes two initiatives that have just combined to serve the retail and distribution needs of small farms: FoodHub an online dating site whose “goal … Read on

Introducing hiSbe: “Bring on the Shopper Power!”

by Ruth Anslow hiSbe stands for how it Should be and our purpose is to help build a fairer and more sustainable food system through Shopper Power! We’re a Community … Read on

How to Reclaim the Foodchain from the Supermarkets and Benefit both Farmers and Consumers

In July 2000 Anthony Davison started BigBarn at Alconbury Weston in Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. Now the enterprise is thriving – and showing how farmers and consumers together can start to … Read on

See all articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>