07 August 2020, 09:42 AM
  • Natasha Lovell-Smith of Great British Food explores how a sustainable ethos can help indies keep customers post-Covid
Lessons after lockdown: part two

Leading with ethics
While many farm shops are understandably keeping their outgoings low, Macknade Food Hall in Faversham recently made the ambitious decision to launch a brand new fish butchery. It is the first retailer to team up with the Pesky Fish platform, whose pioneering technology guarantees super fresh British fish and seafood from sustainable sources, with 100% traceability from boat to plate. Despite the risks in expanding during such uncertain times, the team were keen to follow through with their plans for the new butchery as a long-term investment to boost their ethical ambitions.

“It has taken us many years to identify a supply chain that supports our proud British fishing industry and whose ethos aligns with our own,” says Rosie Collins, marketing manager at Macknade. Meanwhile, Rob Morton from Morton’s Family Farm in Norwich says that it’s never been more important to create and support ‘localised’ supply chains. “The pandemic has made it clear that we need to re-look at farming and the food chain and move the focus away from produce being as cheap as possible. We need to shift back to a more sustainable farming system with a focus on local, quality ingredients. Supporting our farms now will mean that we are in a much better position to deal with an issue like this, should it arise again.”

According to Darren Henaghan at Borough Market, the Covid crisis has provided a unique moment for retailers to educate consumers about the importance of shopping locally and sustainably. “I’d say this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for independents to really engage with consumers. You have their attention – it’s now up to you to prove why you’re different to the supermarkets in an easyto-understand way. Explain why your food is more expensive, tell your story. Create a narrative. Be proactive. I find that customers want to do the right thing – it’s just that sometimes those choices aren’t obvious.” With the boom in home baking and growing we’ve seen in 2020 so 35 far, food has certainly proven to be at the forefront of people’s minds. “In a way we’ve rediscovered food. Seeing the work that goes into making a loaf of sourdough or growing 14 mangetout from seed gives shoppers a new appreciation for the food they buy. Retailers have a captive, engaged audience, now’s the time to sell yourselves,” adds Darren.

Image: Morton’s Family Farm

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