Posted: 14/05/2019

Is being green now as important for a successful retailer as customer service, a compelling range and creating a sense of food & drink discovery?

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THEY SAY THE GREENEST car you can buy is the one you’ve got. Yes, even if it is a dreaded diesel, which we were advised only a few years ago to buy because, guess what, it was more economical and therefore better for the environment. 

So it was with great sadness that in March I managed to drive my beloved 15-year-old A4, with 148k miles on the clock, into a bank – the grassy type on the edge of a lane, rather than the Lloyds or Barclays type. Doing the latter is tempting, but that’s for another column.

I had convinced myself that this old diesel motor, with moss growing on the windows, was doing its bit for David Attenborough just by carrying on. I wasn’t ruining my carbon footprint by prompting the manufacture of another vehicle. But now I’ve killed it and my environmental stock has plummeted.

Rob Copley, chair of the Farm Retail Association, gave out a rallying cry this month (see p11) that farm shops – and perhaps any smaller food retailer – should embrace the anti-plastic movement and send their envirostock (I just made that up) soaring. He is, of course, right.

“By reusing produce boxes and egg boxes as well as moving to paper bags,” reports Rob, “one of our members, Minskip Farm Shop in North Yorkshire, estimate they have reduced their own waste by 45% since 2017.”   

That can only be a good thing. I also note with interest that both Minskip and Rob’s own Farmer Copley’s store in West Yorkshire are currently scooping awards. The latter took a big prize in our very own Shop of the Year in March, with Minskip getting close and also doing well at April’s Farm Shop & Deli Show.  

Does this mean that being green is now as important for a successful retailer as customer service, a compelling range and creating a sense of food & drink discovery?  Increasingly, our more educated food-lover is going to buy with the environment in mind, as well as provenance and taste. 

Yes, there is an opportunity for independents to shout about reduced packaging. The thing is, it’s kind of old news. Keeping things local, providing cardboard boxes in place of bags at the till, selling exact quantities from deli counters to avoid wastage – they’ve been in place for years.  Haven’t we always been green? 

This story appeared in the May issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.

Read more of the latest news from Fine Food Digest here

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