New research set to determine true value of British farm shops
A new research project is set to quantify the impact that farm shops have on the UK’s economy, local communities and suppliers after the industry grew during the COVID pandemic.
The study – launched by the Farm Retail Association (FRA) and in collaboration with Shropshire-based Harper Adams University – hopes to build a clearer picture of the sector with a view to developing it further.
It is estimated that there are currently more than 1,000 premises nationwide coming under the definition of ‘farm shop’, but the research will aim to clarify this figure and determine the wider impact of the stores.
Senior food retail & marketing lecturer at Harper Adams University Alastair Boot said there was evidence that consumers’ appetite for farm shops had grown during the pandemic, with retail patterns changing as shoppers tried to stay local.
“There is a need to build up a picture of the sector as a whole and its impact across the country – and this is where our research, commissioned by the Farm Retail Association, will come in,” he said. “Once we develop that clearer understanding, it can be used to make the case for the nation’s existing farm shops, and to help develop the sector further.”
Rob Copley, chairman of the FRA and co-owner of Farmer Copleys in Pontefract, said: “This is the biggest research project that the FRA has ever undertaken, and the results will fly the flag for our industry.
“We are encouraging all farm retailers to take part in this nationwide survey to get a clear picture of what our sector is worth to the economy and reflecting the vital role our farm retailers play in communities. This will then help not only promote farm retailers but also support those businesses with planning application and funding bids.”
FRA members should have been contacted with a link to the survey, and the organisation urges any who have not yet received it to get in contact. Non-member farm shop owners can complete the survey here, and any questions about the research should be directed to Alastair Boot from Harper Adams University here.
The results of the research are expected to be published in Spring 2022.