Posted: 14/07/2020

“Local is for life and not just for lockdown”

I don’t want you to think I’m not focused on these opinion pieces, but I am currently on hold to easyJet while writing this. It’s fair to say I won’t be too distracted as I am due to speak to a human in about 72 minutes’ time, writes John Farrand, managing director

John Farrand: "Local is for life and not just for lockdown"

I’m trying to get a refund for my son’s post-A-level trip to Portugal. He coughed up the £292 himself but he probably won’t see those hard-earned pounds again.

The only flying these airlines are doing now is in the face of the law, as they break it by not offering refunds. There is an upside of course: a stay-cation summer, and those of us in retail know that is an enormous fillip. 

We need that spend, as do our cousins in foodservice and those in tourism. And when you consider that a third of what a tourist spends over that fortnight away is on food & drink, we need as many punters staying in the UK as possible to help us through 2020.

After rallying calls from hotelier Robin Hutson and cheesemaker Mary Quicke, lockdown has initiated a groundswell of support, flag waving and lobbying. That sentiment is to be encouraged, which is why DEFRA contacted the previously disparate food groups of Britain and organised a Zoom call.  

There is talk of regional groups and industry stakeholders reviving the promotional function that Food from Britain delivered until 2009, before DEFRA closed it. Some would say it was shut down for good reason amidst over-spending in some regions but its ability to facilitate support for the very smallest food and drink businesses has been missed. 

The Guild is bringing its 1,300 members and wider database of 14,000 SMEs to the discussion table that features 20 or so like-minded bodies. We need to maintain support for local retailers and producers that have undoubtedly found new markets and new ways to work in their communities, rather than in isolation.  

Local is for life and not just for lockdown. And that’s what we’ve learned coming out of this crisis, isn’t it? Let’s make sure your customers have learned that, too. 

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