Local food : where’s it been..where’s it going?

first published in Speciality Food

Is local food the answer for speciality food retailers? Speciality food businesses have to find the balance between representing their food place and encouraging food innovation. Local food makes sense, it brings the food maker and the food consumer closer together. But buying 100% local food would cripple innovation because if we all bought locally, food businesses couldn’t grow by exporting to new areas.

Where’s local food been?

Back in 2012 the CPRE Field to Fork reports warned us that the larger retailers were seriously damaging the local food networks. This was around about the time that the local food movement started to go mainstream and away from activist groups such as Tescopoly.

Today ‘local food’ captures a broad spectrum of food consumers from purists with close definitions of ‘local’ to pragmatists who want the best possible food from the closest possible producer. Local purists can set a specific ‘local’ distance ( in the CPRE report this was 30 miles) the issue with this is a rural area can have lots of producers but very few consumers leaving these producers with a limited market space. One solution is to define local by region or country, so for instance Welsh food opens up the local Welsh market to all the major towns and cities in Wales. The issue with the regional local definition is that a food producer in Hereford is closer to Cardiff than a producer in North Wales but not local as they are English…

Where’s local food now?

Within the mixed definitions of local, the IGD believes that local sourcing fits well into the modern supply chain for FMCG. This is because local suppliers tend to be trusted more by consumers, they can offer a more resilient local supply chain, they are increasingly adopting technology that supports a local supply chain and they offer a transparent and traceable solution. This goes to explain the increased interest in the local food supply chain. So the trade protectionism currently rising under Trump in America may be the reason for what the IFT describes as ‘New Nationalism’ with USA food shoppers increasingly favouring regional cuisine. Or it may be that US consumers are looking to local producers to replace giant food producers/retailers with whom they have lost faith. Similarly, the Food Navigator argues that the growing consumer preference for local food prevalent in Germany and the UK is because consumers hunt down small batch runs from producers who can supply exactly what they need from taste, nutrition, allergens etc.

Where’s local food going?

So local food which was the domain of the specialist food store is increasingly going to become part of the grocery mainstream. This is not a threat to specialist food retailers but an opportunity. Local is open for interpretation by the consumer not by the retailer, so it is up to us as local food suppliers to educate the next generation that local can mean both the small localised specialist and the large regional producers who have kept hold of their food provenance.

Good specialist food retailers already know the best regional / national food producers and should have a solid supply chain relationship with them. Good specialist food retailers are also aware of up and coming local producers who they can nurture and encourage. By supporting established and new food producers the independent food retailers can keep control of the local food supply chain. We (Thomas Jardine & Co) have found most local/regional food producers are increasingly preferring a good local supply chain to the alternative of supplying the multiples.

The future of food retailing is ensuring consumer trust in the product you are selling and the local food agenda is part of this…happy retailing


Innovate and save the world

New food producers

It’s a strange old world. We (Thomas Jardine & Co) have worked with two relatively new food producers in the last couple of months who at first glance have nothing in common BUT are actually part of a growing food movement. The first, Bakes and Balls is run by a retired school master Stephen Hall and focuses on producing energy balls that are vegan, gluten free and nut free. The second is a still lemonade created by a seven year old schoolgirl called Molly Rose. The link between these two is their connection to the growing need for food with a social impact.

Stephens product clearly meets the needs of several diets and he also sources his ingredients as ethically as possible. Molly is a wonderful young girl. She has a very good business head on her shoulder (supported by her mum). Molly is determined to share the profits of her endeavours with less fortunate children.  They have already arranged the first run of bottles and will be ready for market this year. Provenance is important to these two up and coming food makers.  What is equally important is the social impact their products have.

Food Provenance

In the speciality food market food provenance has always been important. The growing debate over global warming , sustainable food supply chains and food poverty has meant that the social impact of food manufacturing is becoming equally important to a number of our consumers.

Political movements are ensuring that food and drink consumers are becoming more socially aware of the impact their purchases have. Globally the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition has shown that food that is good for you is also good for the planet and they are taking this argument to a summit in New York in September. So expect a further movement towards fruit and vegetables and away from red meat.

As with the two food producers I mentioned, there is now a move to ‘balance’ healthy eating and treats With today’s “betterment” consumer trend, people are wanting to indulge while still maintaining a “healthy” lifestyle

Food Consumers

Every consumer segment will want socially aware food and drink. A fine example of a healthier treat is Philippa and Simon Guest new Little Cook Box aimed directly at the younger consumer , which was discussed recently in Produce Business UK This move to creating healthier food is not a passing fad for smaller food businesses, Nestle are refocusing their image away from confectionery towards a brand that is ‘fit for the future’ supplying future consumer needs based on health and sustainability.

So when looking at your foods provenance it may well be worth capturing the social story behind the food maker as well.


Living with Amazon and thriving in times of change.

Not a day goes by without news of the rise of Amazon and the demise of the rest of us.

Commentators are eager to talk up the future of online shopping and the fall of the traditional food markets with everything from the corner shop to the giant supermarkets falling prey to this global phenomena.

It is true that Amazon are soaking up the repeat purchases required for our hectic lives but to do this they are slowly encouraging generic solutions . It’s not a short step from Alexa I need my branded muesli to Alexa please send me Amazon Muesli…

The good news is that speciality food is growing in popularity. In an article in the USA ‘Food Dive’ online food blog they referred to a Mintel report that showed speciality food sales in the USA had grown 9 times as fast as other food and now accounted for 15.8% of the USA retail food market. The article went on to demonstrate that speciality food was not now just for the gourmet speciality retailers.

The same is true in the UK , the next generation of consumers have more interest in experiences than brands. Increasingly all consumers are looking for forms of personalisation of their food. This could be health related (gluten free, sugar free), ethically related (vegan, palm oil free) or trend related (superfoods, new flavours or ingredients from local or international places).

The traditional grocery markets dominated by the supermarkets relied on being the trends setters, controlling supply chains that delivered established brands. They are now under attack from online sources such as Amazon who can undercut on brand price and commodity price. They are also facing discounters who up until now, by avoiding focus on brands, have managed to undercut on commodity price.

In this time of change, the large UK supermarket retailers are trying to find their place in the new grocery market and Amazon is trying to buy its way in (already got Whole Foods and rumoured to be looking at one of our UK supermarkets) So what are the choices for the fine food sector in the UK?

It’s the same as its always been. Protect your provenance, keep up with new trends, know your customers and your suppliers. Be the best at what you do and never fight the giant retailers (including Amazon) on their terms.

Again from the USA, in the words of Robin McNamara of Roche Bros (a 20 store operator in Massachusetts) “We are always on the hunt for unique items, and doing the best we can to stay ahead of what’s trending in flavors and concepts, as well as specific categories.”

In the UK we have a growing fine food sector full of truly entrepreneurial ideas. We were fortunate enough to spend some time with Maria Whitehead of Hawkshead Relish this week and saw her Black Garlic Ketchup been bottled. This ketchup has now won numerous national awards and is just one example of the vast array of superb fine food ideas out there. So we as the fine food retailers can bring products like this to an increasingly discerning consumer as they turn their backs on the mass produced brand focused food market of the previous century.

Happy retailing….

Keith & Jacqui Jackson Thomas Jardine & Co https://www.thomasjardineandco.co.uk/ email:hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk


Cumbrian food producers get set to stand together at Farm Shop & Deli Show

Cumbrian Food and Drink

Our county’s vibrant and diverse food & drink scene has made Cumbria a must-visit destination for foodies in recent years. Local food festivals and farmers markets have flourished as a result but now a group of innovative food & drink producers want to join forces to take Cumbria’s finest to the national stage at the NEC Farm and Deli Show in April 2019.

The seed was sown at this year’s Farm Shop & Deli Show in April when a small number of Cumbria-based food & drink businesses exhibited their produce to an audience of 30,000 trade buyers over 3 days. Despite their independent successes, they noticed the gathering crowds of buyers at the large county and regional stands and the idea of the ‘This is Cumbria’ initiative was born!

This is Cumbria

With collective efforts from Jacqui and Keith Jackson at Thomas Jardine & Co, who specialise in generational food businesses and food entrepreneurs and Sue Howorth from The Family Business Network Ltd, the project has been launched to offer trade stand space and sponsorship opportunities. Speaking about the initiative, Keith Jackson said “Maria from Hawkshead Relish and Lisa from Gingerbakers has secured the best location for our ‘This is Cumbria’ stand adjacent to the Live Stage to help us to create a real buzz and curiosity around the produce, but also to offer a unique one stop shop for buyers, retailers, distributers and suppliers to come and experience a taste of Cumbria”.

Already working closely with many Cumbrian food and drink business through The Family Business Network, Sue Howorth commented “The ‘This is Cumbria’ stand represents great value and a one-off opportunity for those new to the world of exhibitions or for businesses with tight marketing budgets to sell more products nationally or internationally. We are offering a range of stand sizes from shared space which is ideal for first-timers, to larger stands for the more established”. Other incentives for joining the Cumbria stand will include the sharing of logistics and travel costs, collecting buying power for show sundries, plus the use of a dedicated central meeting space within the stand for exhibitors to meet and talk with potential customers and trade press.

Maria Whitehead MBE of Hawkshead Relish plans to hold a Masterclass prior to the Show to offer advice and support to fellow Cumbrian exhibitors on how to get the best from the show. Speaking from experience, she commented “This is the sector’s leading event and it brings together over 450 exhibitors which attracts thousands of key buyers from the food and drink retail market over the three days. It gives us a brilliant opportunity to launch new products, generate new sales leads, network and meet with existing clients and to generate some good PR coverage. We hope that this unique opportunity will encourage local businesses to join us and exhibit next year alongside like-minded Cumbria producers”.

The Farm Shop & Deli Show takes place at the NEC from 8-10th April 2019. If you are a Cumbria-based food or drink producer and are interested in reserving trade space, please contact our ‘This is Cumbria’ project coordinators, Keith and Jacqui Jackson via email hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk. The team are also inviting businesses to join the venture as a Sponsor of the ‘This is Cumbria’ stand.

More information about the 2019 Farm Shop and Deli Show can be found at www.farmshopanddelishow.co.uk


Big fish little pond or small fish big pond?

Defining your local place is never easy especially when you come to setting a border where everything beyond is not local…. Think about the political boundaries that already exist from parish to local councils to counties to countries. All these political boundaries have an impact on your place. To fix the impact of these areas our politicians simply invent new areas our city fish (Carlisle) will see impacts from the new ‘ponds’ created from BREXIT to devolution to the LEPs to Northern Powerhouse to Borderlands and I am sure yours will be the same.

All these areas seek to redefine the pond in which our city fish swim, in some cases we (Carlisle) are bigger than one pond (parish councils) in others we are still a relatively large fish (Borderlands) and in others we start to feel like minnows (Northern Powerhouse).

The question I think we all need to ask ourselves is “do we treat the smaller fish in our pond in a way that we would want the larger fish to treat us?”. At one end of the ‘pond spectrum’ is the totally equitable approach to place management where every fish gets the same share of the collective food bank. At the other end is the idea that the pond needs to feed the big fish so that it can protect the smaller fish from any large fish from neighbouring ponds. Do you feel yourself moving towards the equitable argument when your in a really large pond and towards the support the big fish argument when you’re in a small pond?

I know it’s more complicated than that. Projects aimed at social change are arguably better based as close to the end user as possible so for instance, drop in centres and community spaces all need to be spread across the pond. Whilst funded capital projects concentrated on one or two projects could arguably create anchors that would attract either visitors or employers to an area. This was certainly the argument back in the day of anchor stores for high streets or anchor multinational firms for industry strategy , times are changing as I heard at a meeting recently “ one large factory does not a local economy make” and the prospect of House of Fraser leaving our High Street demonstrates the lack of control your local area has over national retail chains. Having said that, focused action that is directly linked to your local area can have huge impact on your place, from May-July we were fortunate enough to host the ‘weeping window’ poppy display that poured over our castle keep and this has definitely increased the number of visitors to our area. The display originally set up at the Tower of London has toured the country for the last four years and Carlisle Castles connection as a recruitment base during the First World War meant we were fortunate enough to be one of the hosts for this magnificent thought provoking display.

As we all negotiate our share of the pond perhaps we should reflect the reason for the poppy display. The display in Carlisle is there because of the 23,000 recruits who passed through the castle during the First World War, 7,000 paid the ultimate sacrifice and died defending their pond. When those running the pond get it wrong, it’s often the fish that pay the price.

So the next time you feel like a fish in a pond , ask yourself :are you allowing enough of a share for your smaller neighbours and are you also supporting your bigger neighbours as they stand up for your pond.

 


The Rise of Provenance


The rise in consumer interest in the provenance of their food driven by food scares and a desire to understand what we are feeding our children is possibly going to become more polarised into ‘cost conscious’ and ‘food conscious’ consumers. The rise of retail mergers may mean ‘provenance’ becomes a key point of difference for certain retailers.

Retail is changing, Sainsbury and ASDA merging is part of a major shake up in food retail similar to that of the UKs retail banking industry back in the 70s and 80s . The large retail multiples only tend to merge when they run out of ideas to grow their market share organically.

The merging of the banks led to the disappearance of many high street names…first in the banks like Midland, Coutts, Williams & Glyns and later the disappearance of many Building Society Names through to Bradford & Bingley. It was not all closures…there was the appearance of new international players like HSBC and Santander and new startups like Virgin and online solutions …First Direct.

The merger of Sainsbury and ASDA may in some part be to new alliances of other food retailers, specifically Tesco’s merger with Booker which effectively brings many local high street names under one banner (One Stop, Budgens, Londis , Family Shopper and Premier will all be supplied by the new group); the Coops takeover of NISA brings the Costcutter and NISA brand into the Coops supply chain and Morrisons developing relationship with Amazon.

Large mergers are generally made to cut costs which usually means simplifying the supply chain. The discounters (Aldi and Lidl) simplify the chain by limiting choice this allows them to support provenance at a national level (allowing Lidl to promote Scottish Food), Tesco has tended to simplify its supply chain by cutting suppliers and reducing opportunities to celebrate provenance. Morrisons and the Coop both celebrate provenance at a local and regional level using this as a key point of difference.

It will be interesting to see where the focus of the new Sainsbury/ASDA group lies (reduction in suppliers or focus on regional/local provenance). The choice may well depend on the focus of us as consumers and interestingly last month saw the launch of Happerley an organisation focused on promoting genuine food provenance. If you have a genuine desire to see the growth of your local food industry we would suggest you check Happerley out, it was officially launched at the Farm Shop & Deli Show in April with support from amongst others Adam Henson (BBC Countryfile) Peter Jinman (Head of DEFRA Animal Welfare) & Philip Pononby (CEO Mid-Counties Co-operative) and if this works it has the chance to change the attitude of the food supply chain in the UK for ever.

Food provenance should not just be about supporting trendy/exclusive local food it should be about creating a genuine food supply for all that is focused on its area and genuinely supports a local/regional taste for our local high street food offering.

First published in Place Magazine for Revive and Thrive

if you want to talk food contact us at hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk


Borderlands Conference

 

 

This is a brief summary of our take out from the Borderlands Conference held in Dumfries on the 18th June. The summary is mainly made up as a collage of comments from speakers, facilitators, businesses, local councillors (from Carlisle, Cumbria, Dumfries& Galloway, Northumberland and Scottish Borders), politicians and public sector officers. We have deliberately not attributed any of the comments as this is about the Borderlands Collective Voice…

Please let us know if you think we captured the day ….comments

Background

Set up to bid for national funds and distribute these funds across the Borderlands area into capital projects.  These should “encourage sustainable growth for the benefit of business and the local community”.

This should be a “transformative project” , “driving inclusive growth”…..”looking for the ‘big ticket idea’”…”this has included talking to 26 local towns”

So we need to know “what needs to happen and how are we going to do it?”

Which leads to three key questions :

Intent?

“Aims are connectivity, growth of sectors (tourism, farming and energy) and deal with population decline (especially in the youth).  Do this by collecting the perspectives of local people and businesses.” This will allow us to realise the potential we have.

“The UK economy is currently unbalanced and Borderlands is the opportunity to rebalance it”

Ingredients?

““Once in a generation” opportunity for change” .  As mentioned on the day “businesses who don’t shout don’t get” and “we (public sector) must put up or shut up”.  A desire to create a “system that removes barriers to growth” and then “encourage distributive transformation”.

The main ingredients we have to use are our “natural and social assets held in the area.”

Pragmatic solutions?

Need to “move away from the top down view of regional support where funding money creates regional growth”.  Because “one big tyre factory does not an economy make”

“Try not to focus solely on the traditional sectors connected with rural areas (tourism, farming and energy)”.  Remember that nowadays there is a “huge amount of crossover in sectors” . So for example   “Food is absolutely a key” because in this region it moves from production to wholesale to retail to hospitality and marketing and covers all business size and ambition.  Another sector with cross cutting themes would be cycling that straddles the border from the Lakes to the 7 Stanes and all the road routes in the region.

Borderlands will be “the first area focused development solution as opposed to a city focused solution.” This means “positivity is key” and the work in Borderlands should “influence a fundamental national review of the planning regime” and “legislation must support the changing needs of communities”.

So Borderlands will “work with businesses that are willing to look outside of the box” “to develop solutions for todays non urban communities”. Uniquely this will mean working in “two regions linked to each other through common history that over time has formed stronger bonds across the border than to their respective national governments.”

Borderlands should use the “capital funding to support economically sustainable projects that look to the future and these will work if they are built around collaborative partnerships with a focus on the long term”. This will be a “10-20 year project to change Borderlands, the challenge is to have the ambition set and not led by short term political aims, it is down to each of us not to let this happen.”

What will good look like?

The hope is that in 20 years time Borderlands will have delivered “pride in place”, “equitable skills” “measurable social and economic gains” and “allowed us all to have input into the area”

 

 


Well if that was January, 2018 is going to be REAL exciting!

The place in which we live is always changing and with it brings new and exciting opportunities.

A view from Blencathra courtesy of Jackrabbit 

We want to collaborate with as many people as possible to help make our place even better and this January just highlights the great teams that are willing to be involved.  This is both in creating a new Guild building for co-workers in Carlisle and building our company Thomas Jardine & Co that looks to support our great family businesses and food businesses.

So, late last year we bought the old Guild building on Abbey Street and we were fortunate enough to be introduced to Les Harding by Chris and Malcolm from Black Box Architects.  Les is a miracle worker and his network is helping us breathe new life into the Guild.  In the Guild we were also lucky enough to have a chance conversation with Ben from A.B.Energy who is now covering all our heating and electrical needs.  The build is taking shape and we are hoping to have it ready for a soft launch at the end of March…watch this space.

Through Thomas Jardine and Co we have been fortunate enough to have serious conversations with a number of large and small food producers, listening to their plans and helping them focus on the future they want to see.  This has led to a number of new entries on our food map and the creation of a calendar that highlights key events for foodies both in the area and nationally.  We have also submitted written evidence on the importance of the cross-border food sector to the Scottish Parliaments Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, as well as conducting our own survey of local food producers’ confidence for 2018.

We are working with Lancaster University to help deliver their Productivity through People Project and are also looking at a joint project with them in Donegal…more on this next month.

Jacqui is also on the judging panel for the Cumbrian Family Business Awards and is working with Sue Howorth (Family Business Network) and Armstrong Watson & Co on their ‘Let’s talk About it” family business series.  Sue and Jacqui are also working on a new family business project that could be really exciting.

Jacqui recently attended a Cumbria LEP meeting in behalf of the NW Institute of Directors and just before Christmas attended a review of research into Family Business, with Prof Carole Howorth from the University of York and Michael Bibby of Bibbys.

Busyish month with lots of catching up with old friends and starting up relationships with new businesses…this is a wonderful place to do business, let’s make it even better.

If you have an interest in Food, Family Business, Co-working and Place do get in touch at hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk and/or follow us on Twitter @thomasjardineco


What will 2018 bring you and your place? What can we do about it?

Every change is both an opportunity and a threat…it’s up to each place how we deal with change…here are four possibilities to ponder…
We are still part of a United Kingdom but no longer part of a united Europe.  Does this mean places across the UK will become more insular with neighbouring towns high streets competing for each other footfall or will regional towns collaborate to promote their place in order to attract more visitors to the areas collective high streets?

Will Brexit empty our high street of EU workers or will our high street service providers adapt their business model to match whatever falls out of the Brexit agreement?

Will the pound fall and attract more foreign tourists to our high street or will the pound fall and reduce consumer spending on our high street?

With the coming of high speed rail links, will the rest of the UK start planning to become a commuter belt for London or will all of the London entrepreneurs relocate and only visit the capital when absolutely necessary?

I hope that you agree that as leaders of place you can only change what you can the rest falls into the ‘out of your control’ or ‘what will be will be’ box.

So as individuals we probably can’t effect Brexit or devolution but we can help strengthen the offer of our place by either focusing on our town/city or on our surrounding cluster of
towns/cities…the choice there is yours.

We probably can’t effect general migration movements in and out of the UK but we can support the local networks that create new business models suited to our place.

We can’t effect the value of the pound but we can support our own high street with our own spending habits …if we don’t spend in our own place then the businesses (large or small) there won’t survive…again the choice is ours.

New businesses set up in areas that most match their needs which include been close to market (physical or online), suitable staff, premises, connectivity and quality of life. If your place can create the right offer, then it will attract new business.

Whatever we choose to do will make a difference. Individually, we can only really change our own place BUT if we all do that then we will change the whole country. Here’s to 2018.

(Previously published in Revive and Thrive Place Magazine Issue 19)


A City Network, Food and Drink Producers, Family Business, Entrepreneurs and Place…one example

The wonderful Shepherds Inn (possibly offering us the best beef in a sandwich at a business lunch ever) in Carlisle, hosted the most recent Carlisle Ambassadors event this time it showcased food in and around the City.

Bruce and Luke’s Handcrafted Coffee in conversation with Armstrong Watson

Speakers as diverse as Grasmere Gingerbread; Peter Sidwell; The Taste Magazine from CN Group; the Northwest Hospitality Show and Carlisle City Council all offered a flavour of how the food sector both impacts and relies on the area in which it is based.

Around the room we had displays from some of our great Food and Drink producers from relatively new businesses such as the Carlisle Living Award winning COM-FOR-T, to the long established trans-generational Pioneer Food Services.

By bringing together the diverse membership of the Ambassadors with Food and Drink businesses from across our area, it offered the members a taste of some of the fine products available from Lakeland Mues Muesli, Carlisle Brewery’s fine collection of ales, Two White Hats seasoning mixes, Grasmere Gingerbread, biscuits from COM-FOR-T, sausages from Pioneer, rhubarb crumble gin from Solway Spirits, to scones made with fresh herbs from Helens Herbs and many more. It also gave the members an opportunity to think about how important this sector is to the City.

The food sector not only offers long term employment from transgenerational family firms, whether this is from the smaller food producer with a global reach such as Grasmere Gingerbread, who at over a 170 years has an impressive array of international customers or Pioneer Foods at almost 150 years old that plays an essential part in the food supply chain across the City, SW Scotland and the North of England. The food sector also encourages the growth of innovative new businesses either rural (Lakeland Mues), urban (COM-FOR-T), Carlisle based (Carlisle Brewery) or from across the border (Solway Spirits).

From our stand we (Thomas Jardine & Co) asked attendees how they could either support this sector, or as a Food and Drink producer, what type of support they wanted from other businesses. The answers were illuminating and we will share these at another time, perhaps for now you could ask yourself the same questions…either as a non-food business what could you do for Food and Drink Producers near you, or as a Food and Drink Producer, what could you gain (or want) from working with businesses or experts near to you? Any thoughts please tweet us @thomasjardineco or email: hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk