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To boost the recovery of local economies, the Government is encouraging shoppers to support the independent businesses in their communities. But with many consumers wary of entering shops despite the safety precautions businesses are taking, one group of speciality shops is going above and beyond to make their products accessible to the community.
Wye Valley Producers is a collective of award-winning artisan producers who came together to bring local products to local people. Their Click & Collect platform aims to make buying local more accessible to people in the Wye Valley region. Customers can order from 18 different local food producers, pay online, and then pick up their orders at a drive-through collection every Friday.
Katie Weeks, commercial manager at Netherend Farm Butter, was keen to join the initiative. “For us at Netherend Farm, we jumped at the chance to be part of a positive group of like-minded producers who were doing something very proactive and creating a new kind of farmer’s market in response to the pandemic.
“It really hits home how important it has been when we hear from vulnerable customers who are shielding and this is a safe way for them to collect good quality, fresh local produce – straight from the producer to the boot of your car!”
Kit Newell, co-founder and director of sales and marketing at Wye Valley Meadery said the project has been a “lifeline” for the business, which relies on trade events to provide the majority of its income. “We had previously talked with a number of other local producers about doing something together but Covid was the catalyst that made it happen. It has shown us the huge appetite for local produce which doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, we plan to keep the weekly market going for as long as people use it. One possible positive to come from the current crisis might be the rediscovering of local produce and less reliance of major supermarkets.”
Angharad Underwood, co-founder of Wye Valley Producers said the collaboration has “made a fundamental change to how we work”. “The Click & Collect as a business model is brilliant, sharing the workload and creating a one stop shop really is great and adds to all of our brands.
Long term, this collaboration offers a number of new opportunities for the businesses involved. “From group events to an online ordering and delivery system for shops and retail outlets, minimising our hours so that we can focus more on our businesses and production,” Angharad said.
Business leaders can also upskill by leaning on the expertise of one another. “It has been great to work alongside a fabulous group of people with so many different skills, which we have then been able to put to good use within our own business,” said Katie. “We are currently planning different events and future delivery options as well as speaking to everyone we can to spread the word that artisan food producers need the public’s support now more than ever.”
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