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How Producers can take part

How Producers can take part

British Food Fortnight is a great time to boast about what you do! We know how great our British producers are but many people do not take the time to think about the origins of their food, or who produces it. Producers are the best people to tell the public about their industries and so many of you are already working in your communities to do so. 

Be an advocate for your industry - your time is NOW, especially during British Food Fortnight!

Work with schools – play your part in educating the next generation of consumers

Young people of today are your customers of tomorrow. So play a part in teaching them about British food and farming!

Education is the most important catalyst in achieving a lasting food revolution in the UK. Children need to be taught where food comes from and how it is grown and produced, otherwise we risk becoming a ready-meal buying nation that does not know how to prepare and cook fresh produce.

The best people to make the young aware of the pleasures, and health benefits, of Britain’s diverse and delicious food are those who produce it.

There are many organisations that can help and advise you on ways to make the most of educational opportunities on your farm or premises. The following organisations provide useful information about opening farms to schools and farmer training programmes:

Visit my Farm

Farming and Countryside Education

Growing Schools

Farms for Schools

Here are some suggestions of how you can help educate the children in your local school about the delights of British food and, in doing so, the importance of the role of the farmer.

Request a meeting with the Head Teacher in your local school. This will be easy if your children attend the school. If they do not, ask a friend who has children at the school to arrange the meeting for you and ideally attend the meeting with you. Primary schools tend to be the most receptive as they are not so busy with exams.

Offer to host a school visit to your farm or production outlet or to give a talk in the school. Consider offering the children the opportunity to taste different foods that are produced on farms – eating is always a good way to get their attention!

The Head Teacher will want to know how the activity complements the statutory targets set by the national curriculum. Explain that every subject can be taught through food and farming. It fits in particularly well with the following subjects:

PSHE & Citizenship: Learn about the rural way of life, how food is produced and about the people involved in its production. Reproduction.
English: Class debates about different types of food production – you could offer to speak at one of them!
Design &Technology: How food is produced and marketed
History: Britain’s food through the ages and the history of British farming – how things have changed
Geography: The effects of climate, terrain and socio-economic factors on food production. The concept of food miles.
Maths: The simple economics of running a farm – cost of production, prices obtained, profits and losses.
Science: What’s in season when? How to grow food. Seed to harvest.
Religious Education: Harvest Festival - British Food Fortnight takes place around the time of Harvest Festival.

Pubs – put British food on the menu in your local

The food service sector presents a huge opportunity for British farmers. Pubs are potentially a strong link between local producers and consumers yet too many buy from major caterers who in general source en-masse from major producers.

  • Do you know where the food on your pub menu comes from?
  • Is there a place for your produce or that of neighbouring farms on the menu?

Ask to meet the owner of the pub and the pub chef out-of-hours and explain to them why it is in their commercial interest to stock more British produce. Points you may like to make include:

  • They will attract new customers
  • Demand for quality, fresh, regionally-distinct, fully-traceable food is increasing – and customers are prepared to pay more for it
  • The opportunities to use quality local food to complement beer and wine sales, and to drive menu sales, are increasing.
  • Offer suggestions of how your produce – or that of other local producers or neighbouring farms – can be showcased on the menu.

We have a special page for pubs, restaurants and hotels which may also inspire you.

  • Explain how different, less commonly-used cuts of meats can be used to create delicious dishes. Many pub chefs are not imaginative about this. However, they will be particularly interested if it means that by using cheaper cuts and types of meat they can reduce the unit-cost of a dish. For example, skirt in casseroles; chicken wings and legs in stews rather than the breast; mutton rather than lamb.
  • Discuss with the pub chef what sort of, and quantities of, portion sizes and cuts they require. Consider teaming up with a local processor or butcher to produce. If you are unable to provide the required amount from your farm, join forces with neighbouring farmers.
  • Remember to ask the pub to name you as producer on the menu. Provenance is important and many customers will pay more for a meal when they know where it is sourced from, particularly if it features local produce. What about mentioning the breed of sheep used for the roast lamb as well as the farm on which it was raised? Or mentioning the variety of apple used in the apple pie or the name of the cheese providers? Locally sourced sausages are always a winner and mentioning the use of free-range eggs from a named farm in puddings goes down particularly well.
  • If you are able to supply direct, ask for your name and contact details to be displayed in the written menu or on cards at the bar so that customers can order direct where appropriate.
  • Do not dismay if your pub initially rejects your suggestions as too expensive. Offer the statistics in this article as evidence of the growing consumer interest inquality food. By serving quality food, the pub will increase sales overall and be able to offer dishes with a larger profit-margin, particularly if they are imaginative with the cuts of meats they use.
A word about small producers dealing direct with pubs

Some pubs, particularly larger ones, shy away from this. But time spent investing in building long-term relationships and trust with them is worth it. If they have problems with your ability to deliver on quantity and consistency, for example, take the time to discuss their requirements with them and also try and understand the process from their point of view. If fragmented supply is the problem, you may wish to consider joining with other producers to form an informal co-operative that better meets the pubs needs.

Check-list of things you can encourage your local pub to do
  1. Put food from local farms on the menu.  Either adapt the existing menu or create a special board focusing on local produce.  
  2. Display the origin of food on the menu. For example, braised lamb from xyz farm
  3. Tell the regional tourism organisation so that the pub is promoted as part of your region’s tourism experience. 
  4. Monitor customer response to the new dishes on the menu.
  5. Re-consider the children’s menu – little people will love locally-produced sausages!

Local shops – make yours a shop window for British produce

  • Here are some suggestions of how you can encourage your local shops to take part and stock British produce not just during the Fortnight but year-round.
  • Request a meeting with the owner of your local shop – perhaps offer to take them for a meal in your local pub. Explain to them why it is in their commercial interest to stock more British produce. Points you may like to make include: 

They will attract new customers. 

They will increase sales from existing customers who will use more of their weekly spend in their shop.

They will establish a point of difference between their shop and those that stock only mainstream brands

The demand for quality, fresh, regionally-distinct, fully-traceable food is increasing. 

  • Remember, you are a sales person not just for your own products but for other producers in the area and indeed across the country. As a rule, encourage the shop-owner to source local first, regional second and country-wide third.
  • Offer some suggestions to the shop owner about where to source the produce. Many shop owners do not have time – or the knowledge – to seek out new products. Ideally go armed with a list of suggested products – try and suggest a representative sample across all categories: dairy, meat, vegetable and fruit. If you are able to provide telephone numbers for where they can source them that would be even better.
  • If you are introducing your own product to the shop, offer to go into the store during opening hours to conduct a tasting and meet customers to explain to them why they should buy your product.
  • Create your own point-of-sale material – brightly coloured labels, shelf-markers and posters will make your product stand out in-store and they need not be expensive to produce.
Check-list of things you can encourage your local shop to do
  1. Increase their stock of British food by sourcing local first, regional second, country-wide third 
  2. Offer regular tastings and promotions to highlight new products 
  3. Encourage producers to come into their store to conduct tastings and to meet their customers 
  4. Position a board either in their window or outside the store telling customers that tastings of local products are being offered today 
  5. Consider installing a chill-counter so they can sell fresh, delicatessen-type food.  

The Public Sector – aim high!

The public sector in England is a significant customer of the food industries. From 2017, central government will commit to buying fresh, locally sourced, seasonal food, through a new, simplified food and drink buying standard. £400 million of potential new business for the British food industry was announced on the 21st July 2014 by Prime Minister David Cameron and Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss, as part of the government's long-term economic plan to back British businesses. You can find further information on our Public Procurement pages.