This is Arthur with one of his beautiful White Park cattle. We feature Arthur today to highlight new market research from the Institute of Grocery Distribution where consumers were asked what the food trade could do better in 2008. Encouragingly, the biggest number of mentions, 43%, said that the trade should do more to support producers in Britain. This number was higher even than that for cutting back on unnecessary packaging which has long been a consumer bugbear, and came in at 41%. These findings support a trend which has been seen for over a year now where consumers views of farmers have changed from highly critical to being very sympathetic to their plight. Its a feeling that has been picked up by the grocery trade who are spending alot of money advertising their support for British farmers.(See blog post " Morrisons latest to support British Farming on 6th November). Interestingly the research shows how stong is the Fair trade message with 24% of consumers saying that the food trade should do more to support producers in developing countries.
This support for British farmers is excellent news. However those in farming have to work hard to maintain this support. One risk is that with all the talk of higher food prices, grain being at a record price, and dairy farmers at last getting better prices, consumers think that everthing is ok in the farming world now, not realising the huge pressures that livestock farmers face. Every one in farming, especially leaders such as the NFU, needs to communicate clearly that yes, some farmers are doing better but alot are barely surviving.
For the more on the research go to http://www.igd.com/