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FBD: Study claims supply of local food lagging behind demand (UK)

By Sarah Hills |

January 04 2010 - A new study claims that there is not enough supply of local beef, lamb, fish, fruit and vegetables to satisfy demand in the South East of England.

The feasibility study, produced by Bidwells Agribusiness on behalf of the South East Food Group Partnership, said that this implies there are significant opportunities available to the region’s suppliers and producers, with similar scenarios likely in other city areas across the UK.

Bidwells’ research showed that two in three London consumers currently buys or would like to buy more local food and it valued the London demand to be worth an estimated £9.3 billion annually.

It also suggests ways producers and suppliers can capitalise on the growing consumer appetite for local food and regional food, stimulating more long-term support for the British food sector.

Firstly it recommends the development of a food hub to support the food sector in the regions around London (South East and East of England), incorporating a virtual business-to-business e-marketplace to enable producers, suppliers, buyers and retailers to engage more directly. This would also provide a platform for promoting food to consumers.

Secondly it recommends the development of up to 20 street markets across the Greater London area.

It said these recommendations illustrate how it is possible for Britain’s food sector to establish the necessary infrastructure to foster greater market access through the supply chain, as well as outlining a viable and attractive proposition to consumers.

Richard Walters, head of food marketing at Bidwells, said: “The shift away from organic has increased the focus on regional and local food, and people now want to know their food is the freshest it can be and know where it comes from.

“In addition, the challenge of the recession means that people want to support their local community as best they can, from buying local food, to sustaining local shops.

 “Our research demonstrates the sheer scale of the opportunity available to producers and suppliers in the South East and, by implication, across the whole of the UK.”

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