20 March 2007, 15:07 PM
  • This month, Rob Ward focuses on 'food finding', asking retailers to start challenging what they sell

We recently just enjoyed the first of our quarterly food festivals. A great opportunity to inject some of that much needed spring rejuvenation into our retail business.
What I love about these events is that they reminds us of what people want. Interestingly, it also reinforces what people don’t want.
The message to me that came out of it loud and clear was that 2007 is going to be about the ‘basics’, not the ‘frills’. To me the ‘basics’ are good, wholesome, everyday food. Food that everyone can afford, that tastes great, with provenance (a true story)  – this is what sells, over and over again. Products like proper sausages, locally sourced milk, farmhouse butter, really fresh veg, home cakes - WI style… you get the point.
The ‘frills’, are the pretty, treat foods that cost a fortune, often looking better than they taste! Therefore, should we condemn the ’frilly’ foods to history, like museum pieces that symbolise all the confusions about food following the fine food mania of early 2000?
No we shouldn’t, but we should be far more ruthless to the ‘frilly’ foods that need a reason to exist. Foods must a have function, put simply do something useful! So, out with poncy pots and in with simply designed great tasting grub.
A message to the product designers out there – packaging designs that look simple, clean and uncomplicated will sell over the same product dressed up like some sort of flowery tart (not the edible version!)
We live in a complicated world where consumers are lied to by people who affect their lives, be that food producers or politicians, give people simplicity, honesty and function and you will make them happy.
Here’s to happiness…

Rob Ward owns award-winning farm shop and delicatessen, ‘GreenFields’ in Shropshire, more information about his store is available on http://www.GreenFieldsOnline.co.uk. Rob also helps other retailers – visit http://www.on-ward.co.uk, or call 07773 777097.