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With food prices at an all-time high and inflation passing 9% we are all facing challenging times. How can we survive this imminent recession? What can we do in our independent food businesses to keep sales coming in?
One thing that helps is that we all have a pretty good idea of how this could affect us. That is why we need to build damage limitation in to our operations and become innovative with fresh ideas. These ideas may take us out of our comfort zones, but if it helps to keep a roof over our heads and protect our workforce then that’s surely a good thing?
Since heading into the storm, No2 has been monitoring farmers markets and has seen a serious drop-off in sales. This is not isolated and all other market traders have felt the dip.
Consumer habits are changing and we need to run with that. There are plenty of statistics to find and help you make informed decisions when it comes to produce and market trends.
No2 has a shop and runs several markets selling cheese, occasionally wine and charcuterie. Markets have been an area of serious growth for our business over the last two to three years. This year see us double our presence in the marketplace. Markets are a good area to help increase revenue streams. The only cost is for your produce being sold, gazebo, fuel and a small pitch fee. If you find a suitable town where you can sell cheese do make sure you research the place first. There are plenty of market towns that financially do not stack up. The best markets are at the weekends or in high net worth areas with good local footfall.
Focus your cheese on specialist and territorials. Health foods continue to be a growth sales area across the UK whilst full fat is being swapped out for skimmed etc.
Now is the time to consider your offering – is it ahead of the game? Are you carrying produce that takes too long to shift? If so, lose the product and consider other items to replace it that move quickly.
Contact local groups, for e.g., “The U3A” University of the 3rd Age. Talks on cheese and wine are thoroughly enjoyed. These tastings can bring in welcome revenue that are also moral boosters for your team. We are in cheese because we love it – having an audience that wants to learn more is always a great feeling. Onward sales as a result of these meetings are positive. Going to another venue or house is another shop window for you and it will help direct customers to your business.
Have a look at your shop front – is it dynamic, does it talk to your audience, importantly does it bring them in to buy something? Go bold make positive statements about your produce for all to see. The UK is going on a nose dive and it will be a long time until we can change to an upward trajectory. Your positivity will be a major ingredient in keeping your business afloat and your team will pick up on any negativity. So as owners we have the toughest job by being at the coal face.
Our dear cheese farmers need us right now to promote and help educate the audience. Public perception of food is changing and guess what it is in favour of real cheese and provenance. British Cheese consumption is at an all-time high and we need to keep that momentum.
My tip is to champion proper artisan British territorials. Put out some produce at a reduced price that people love – cover your costs but get a loss leader on show. This will show your community spirit and that as a local shopkeeper or cheesemonger you are prepared to go that extra mile.