Tag Archives: farm shop
No one needs telling that we’re living in desperate times when the government orders the closure of catering businesses.
Those who are offering a takeaway or distribution service are currently exempt.
But when the likes of MacDonalds, Costa and Nando’s voluntarily decide to close to protect staff; it’s time to see what has been put in place already for Covid19 and catering businesses.
Government Specific Help for Catering Businesses
Following the Chancellor’s announcements there is some useful information on covid-19 support on the government’s pages . Check this out for the latest info and updates.
The government’s interventions are primarily about continuity so that when the crisis ends pubs, restaurants, hotels, mass catering and leisure facilities are still around to begin trading again.
The first is for staff under the Coranavirus Job Retention Scheme. Here a grant will cover 80% of retained but non-working employees pay. This is capped to a monthly salary of £2,500 equivalent to £30,000 pa. It’s backdated to March 1st and will in the first instance run for 3 months to the end of May. It could be extended. Now is a good time to have an open and honest conversation with staff about balancing pay and a future job. And then getting a grant for the majority of that cost.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme focuses on the business who turns over under £45M. This provides a government-backed guarantee for 80% of the loan amount. The government will pay the first 12 months interest. The maximum term of the loan is 6 years.
Here the government is enabling catering business to access loans where previous the answer would be no and giving an interest holiday. The full loan amount will need to be repaid. Consider what essential items could benefit from being covered by a loan; and then how you would be able to pay it back from 2021.
Covid-19 Tax and Reclaim Breaks
With immediate effect, all VAT is deferred to the next quarter so the next payment date for any outstanding is the end of June. But treat this carefully as the VAT will need to be paid at that time. And with limited or no income coming in, it will be difficult to replenish that pot.
If you are having tax payment difficulties, the best advice is to call 0800 0159 559 to discuss the Time to Pay scheme. Do this at the earliest opportunity, not at the last minute.
If staff are unfortunate to catch Covid-19 then with an isolation note from NHS111online, as an employer you can reclaim 2 weeks statutory sick pay.
Local Authority Support for Covid19 and Catering Businesses
Some catering businesses have opted to provide or expand their takeaway meals services. This is a good way to liquidate stock or to maintain limited supply from key suppliers. Some local authorities have been quick with suitable advice such as Monmouthshire .
More significantly there are a number of business rate measures that will be enacted by your local authority. These require no action on your part. Business rates for those in hospitality, retail and leisure have been abolished for the Tax Year 2020-2021. A new statement will be issued by your local council.
Local councils will also administer the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme and notify you directly. This is based upon rateable value:
- If your rateable value is up to £15,000 you can get a cash grant of £10,000
- For those between £15,001 and £51,000, the grant is £25,000
- Farm shops and micro businesses are not left out. If you are in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief; there is a one-off grant of £10,000.
Cashflow is King
For catering businesses cashflow has always been king. Now more than ever, owners and managers need to look very carefully at their budgets and costs. Work out what is necessary, deal with people honestly and respectfully and access what is available to help for covid19 and catering businesses.
At AC Services Southern we look forward to working with you in any way we can; so that your business can revive when this crisis is over.
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair celebrated a landmark birthday last week and the show provided a special 20th anniversary edition at Olympia, London. The event held between 1 and 3 September attracted over 10,000 visitors, food producers, exhibitors, speakers and VIPs.
The Fair has always had an excellent reputation as an environment to reach out and make connections with existing or potential new partners and customers. As a result, The Speciality & Fine Food Fair is eagerly anticipated by those involved in artisan and speciality produce. These include independent retailers, chefs, delicatessens, hoteliers, importers, restaurateurs, distributors and wholesalers. Each are given the unique opportunity to source, network and get up to date with the latest trends.
2019 saw nine Welsh artisan food and drink companies exhibiting under the Food & Drink Wales banner. The country has a long established status at the show for innovation and this year was no different. Halen Môn, the Anglesey Sea Salt Company launched DIY Brine kits for Christmas poultry. While Daioni Organic showcased its coffee range with 100% Fairtrade single-origin organic Arabica coffee beans from Mexico.
South Caernarfon Creameries featured its new handcrafted range of cheeses. These include Dragon Cavern Aged Cheddar with Penderyn Whiskey and Dragon Welsh Slate Cavern Aged Cheddar. The Parsnipship showcased its full range of vegetarian and vegan produce such as Glamorgan Crumble, stilton and spinach potato cake and tandoori mash-up.
The Welsh Government supported the nine companies to attend Speciality & Fine Food Fair in the dedicated Cymru/Wales Pavilion.
Seminars and Features
Elsewhere at the Fair, the Food for Thought speaker programme featured successful entrepreneurs and industry experts. Their topics covered sustainability, the reduction of food waste, customisation, plant-based food, fermentation and Made in Great Britain.
The Savour the Flavour live demonstration kitchen created dishes inspired by products from the show. The Fair’s portfolio director, Soraya Gadelrab commented: “Kitchens are so vibrant. It’s all about the taste and visual appeal of dishes so we’re delighted to translate this directly at the fair through the live demo kitchen…the Food for Thought programme offers an unrivalled insight into the latest trends set to influence menus, from fine to casual dining”.
In recognition of the expanding success of the booming drinks market, the Drinks Cabinet returned for its second year. This features luxury small and large batch spirits, beers, ales, wines and ciders, as well as the burgeoning low- and no-mixers and soft drinks sectors.
The Discovery Zone enabled visitors to find innovative brands created in the past three years. It included everything from antipasti to oils, seasonings, cheese and charcuterie, dairy and dairy alternatives and fish and seafood.
The Shop of the Year competition had a stand. It offers small independent retailers the opportunity to shine, with five main categories, namely delicatessen and grocer; specialist cheese shop; farmer owned farm shop; food hall; and specialist food or drink shop. There is also a Newcomer Award. Entries close on September 20th. So if you missed the Fair, there’s still time to enter the Awards to celebrate your success and generate more interest.
The summer is coming to an end and although we’ve had a blistering Bank Holiday, thoughts will soon be turning to the next major event in our calendar, the Big C. There’s even a Christmas tree up in my local heralding the start of the party season. Too soon, far too soon!
Meanwhile, the food industry is as busy as ever and more Bristol food producers are springing up offering alternative and sustainable produce. Farm Wilder is an excellent example of producers taking sustainability to another level. The company was set up in January 2019 in Bristol. It selects and labels the highest quality produce from the most wildlife-friendly farms. The rapid decline of the wildlife in the UK led the company to source the best produce from SW farms. It supports “farmers’ restoration of biodiversity and sequestration of carbon back into the soil.”
What’s in a Name?
The farmers producing Fritillary butterfly beef help protect Marsh Fritillary butterflies in Devon. These cattle are slower growing than modern breeds, but produce the tastiest and healthiest meat. Farmers producing Cuckoo beef help Devon’s cuckoos in Devon with native hardy cattle thriving on the meadows and moors.
Cuckoo lamb is also available, with the same aim as the beef. Grazing native sheep like Scottish Blackface, Welsh Black Mountain and Dorsets, maintain the habitat needed by cuckoos to thrive. All of the animals are pasture-fed feeding on a natural diet of pasture and forage such as hay in winter. They are less likely to suffer from disease and require little veterinary attention or antibiotics.
Bristol Community Producers
Once upon a time, Elm Tree Farm was used as an occupational therapy resource hospital farm. It now offers adults with learning disabilities and autism gain work skills such as animal husbandry, market garden, nursery or woodwork. With around four acres of growing land, including several polytunnels and an orchard; the farm produces fruit, vegetables, chickens and other livestock using native breeds. As the behaviour of the animals suits the landscape and the quality of the meat is higher. The meat is all slaughtered and butchered locally, then kept frozen and sold from the on-site farm shop.
Edible Futures was set up as a Community Interest Company, seven years ago. With almost 1.5 acres here and two 90ft polytunnels, fruit, herbs and vegetables are grown. The company sells around 50% of their produce directly to local restaurants. The rest is sold through a Community Supported Agriculture model called Salad Drop, where members get a small, medium or large share of salad once a week, delivered to one of three drop off points around Bristol.
Finally, if you are ever in need of goat, then Troopers Hill in East Bristol offers Street Group. This is a group of people who keep goats in the city. As well as female milking goats, the group have also raised male offspring; initially using them to clear overgrown allotments, then buying castrated males goats for conservation grazing on overgrown land to restore important habitat for wildlife. The male goats are then sold for meat.
Bristol food producers consistently offer variety and the new. Ideal for the catering businesses that AC Services Southern serves locally.
In a week that saw the highest temperatures ever recorded in July not only in the UK but in other parts of Europe, talk has turned to peanuts and other crops that might be at risk.
Global peanuts consumption has grown at the rate of 2.53% and expected to grow further during 2019-2024. China and India are the largest consumer and exporters of peanuts in the world, accounting for more than 36% of the global consumption.
But according to reports, peanuts might be extinct by 2030. The reason is that peanuts are considered “fairly fussy plants”, and need five months of consistent warm weather, along with 20 to 40 inches of rain. If there is not enough rain, the pods won’t germinate. If there is too much rain, the plants will wilt making the peanuts inedible. We know from America’s peanut production that droughts and heat waves can destroy entire peanut crops. With the weather getting record-breakingly warmer, this is a worry.
Last week, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands recorded their highest ever temperatures. Several cities in France broke previous temperature records with Bordeaux and Paris exceeding 40 degrees. Here’s the science: the latest heatwave has been caused by an omega block which is a high-pressure pattern that blocks and diverts the jet stream, allowing a mass of hot air to flow up from northern Africa and the Iberian peninsula.
All of this climate change is putting crops at risk in harvest yields worldwide. It’s not just the heat however, crops are affected by unusually cold nights, weeks with no rainfall and storm-driven precipitation. All of which account for up to 49% of yield losses for maize, rice, spring wheat and soy beans.
Extensive studies have been carried out in Europe, the US and Africa to measure the cost to the grains, pulses and tubers that feed 7.7 billion people. These now have the aim of isolating the factors within climate change that might affect harvests.
Researchers have found that the maize yield in Africa is in a dire situation. Africa’s share of global maize production is not large, but the largest part of that production goes to human consumption. When compared to just 3% in North America, it is clear why maize is critical here for food security. Consider also that in the UK and Europe, maize is a key foodstock for cows, milk and beef and so indirectly human consumption.
Crops at Risk
The climate is crucial to most growth with food items such as avocados and chickpeas needing an awful lot of water to be produced. 72 gallons in fact to make just one pound of avocados. More than 80% of America’s avocados are grown in California, where there’s a drought. Similarly, chickpeas need almost the same amount of water. Global production of these legumes has gone down 40-50% due to worldwide droughts.
And what about coffee? The unimaginable could happen. Most coffee comes from Arabica beans, which grow best between 64 F and 70 F. If the temperature rises above that, the plants ripen too quickly, which affects the quality of the yield.
The bottom line is that climate change is happening and will affect the food we grow and eat. The extremes of British weather over the last week emphasises our vulnerability and allows us to reflect.
Healthy and sustainable food procurement is increasingly important and in the BANES region, they are taking it very seriously.
In 2017, the West of England Food Procurement Group was set up by four West of England local authorities including BANES. This has the aim of providing leadership on healthy and sustainable food procurement, catering and public health. The group works together to exchange information, share best practice and identify initiatives and actions; to support healthy and sustainable food procurement across the West of England.
And there are plenty of producers in BANES from which to choose in every food category. If you are looking for vegetables, try Plowright Organics. Mr Plowright started growing organic vegetables in 2000. He now runs a very successful veg box scheme as well as supplying wholesale markets.
At the end of last year, the company added an even more attractive item to its menu to offset the leeks, potatoes, carrots, onions etc. This is a fully compostable (plastic free) bag which is used to pack leafy produce. The bags are made using GMO-free starch from thistles, and will break down fully.
If you really can’t live without quinoa, then the Bath Farm Girls can help you out. A family affair, the company provides the local community as well as the British Quinoa Company. The farm also produces wheat, barley and linseed grapes. It also runs a Countryside Stewardship scheme developing wildlife habitat areas and pollen and nectar mixes across the farm.
Oils and mayonnaise are the specialities of Bath Harvest Oils, pressed and bottled with love in Somerset. The company produces numerous flavoured oils such as lemon and basil as well as the trademark rapeseed oil, which contains vitamin E and Omega 3. This is produced by cold pressing small batches of seed grown on the Wilmington Farm. The family has been farming for four generations and can boast that Bath Harvest Rapeseed Oil is a fully traceable ‘field to fork’ artisan product.
Grown Green is a double award-winning sustainable market garden, based at Hartley Farm in Winsley. Founded in 2010, vegetables, herbs, salads and flowers are grown following organic standards year-round in polytunnels, herb beds and fields.
BANES Cheese and Meat
Do you need cheese? Then try Homewood Cheeses based in Ubley in the beautiful Chew Valley. The company makes its own cheeses by hand with ewes milk from two Somerset flocks. Choose from Fresh Ewes Cheese (curd), Halloumi, Ricotta, Pickled Ewes Cheese (feta-style) and a family of washed curd cheeses including Old Demdike. Homewood can be found every Saturday at the Bath Farmers Market and on the first Sunday of the month at the Frome Independent.
Finally, Larkhall Butchers is a multi-award winning shop situated in the heart of Larkhall, on the outskirts of Bath. A well-stocked traditional butcher’s counter supplements a selection of cooked and cured meats, as well as fresh fish and other accompaniments. The butcher’s is famous for its own sausages made freshly on site, using pea flour as a substitute for rusks for a range of delicious 100% gluten free sausages.
And these are just a few of the local food producers that AC Services Southern found in the BANES region.
As a company focused on servicing and maintaining Rational ovens for all sorts of catering businesses; it’s not surprising we’re also interested in food sourcing and safeguarding the future. For many of our clients the choice of ingredients and being different is important. This is why the first UN study of biodiversity set our alarm bells ringing.
This warns of “humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity”. The Food and Agriculture Organisation issued the report and the findings are pretty stark. Over the past 20 years, around 20% of the vegetated surface of the earth has become less productive. In other words, our global capacity to produce food is weakening.
What do we mean by biodiversity ? According to definition it is the “variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part…diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems.” On the David Attenborough scale of climate-changing significance, it is way up there.
The Decline of Natural Assets
Scientists involved in the report found evidence the natural support systems underpinning the human diet are deteriorating around the world. Factories, farms and urban infrastructure in particular, are capturing land and pumping out chemicals. This is leading to a debilitating loss in natural assets. These include forests, coral reefs, soil biodiversity, grasslands, and genetic diversity in crop and livestock species.
There is a reduction in the amount of species indirectly involved in food production. Examples of these are crop-pest eating birds and water-purifying mangrove trees. Pollinators are at risk, and they provide essential services to three-quarters of the world’s crops.
But if we are producing more food than ever before, as we are, how is this possible? The sobering reality is that we are relying on ever-expanding monocultures. Incredibly, two-thirds of crop production comes from just nine species. These are maize, sugar cane, wheat, potatoes, rice, soybeans, oil-palm fruit, cassava and sugar beet.
There are at least 6,000 cultivated plant species categorised as being in decline. At the same time wild food sources are becoming harder to find. Agriculture and urbanisation are taking much of the blame with habitat loss, pesticides, pollution, invasive species, pathogens and climate change.
Are We In Danger?
Is this overdependence on a handful of products a problem? Seemingly so, as the report cited the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s; the 20th century cereal crop failures in the US; and more recently the losses of taro production in Samoa in the 1990s as examples of when overdependence can have a brutal impact on humans.
Even the Lancett has joined the crusade, stating that “our diets are the largest cause of climate change and biodiversity loss is now overwhelming”. The global food system is responsible for around 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions, with the livestock sector on its own accounting for about 14.5% of that figure. Its solution? Halve global meat consumption, and more than double the volume of whole grains, pulses, nuts, fruit and vegetables.
If that’s too radical, in 2016, another report suggested an alternative solution. “Possible policy options include better protection of natural environments and ecosystems, limiting the scope of intensive agriculture, and finding alternatives to pesticides.”
Last word goes to Michael Higgins, Ireland’s president. “Around the world, the library of life that has evolved over billions of years – our biodiversity – is being destroyed, poisoned, polluted, invaded, fragmented, plundered, drained and burned at a rate not seen in human history. If we were coal miners we’d be up to our waists in dead canaries.”
Food is seasonal and spring is the time for new crops to be harvested. There is an abundance of all-year round produce which we enjoy as part of our staple diets, such as potatoes, onions, beef, bananas, chicken and cabbage.
But some food sparks great anticipation. Not least in this category is asparagus which is coming in to fruition as we speak.
Around the world, we herald the arrival of this humble vegetable with excitement and even festivals. The British Asparagus Festival, celebrates the start of the asparagus season where a fleet of vintage cars takes the crop to its final destination from the Vale of Evesham.
From Asparagus to Lamb
Asparagus is the young shoots of a cultivated lily plant. It is one of the delicacies of the vegetable world although it is notoriously labour intensive to grow. French asparagus is purple, the British and American varieties are green whereas in Spain and Holland, asparagus is white. And as far as nutrition goes, all types have high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium.
Other food coming in May includes strawberries, gooseberries, carrots and tomatoes. At their very best are spring greens, sorrel, peas, new potatoes, halibut, crab, rhubarb and of course, spring lamb. Spring lamb, also called early or summer lamb, is three to five months old.
Also keep an eye out for aubergines, the fruit that thinks it’s a vegetable and which has gained new interest with the vegan and vegetarian options now readily available. Although it is native to South-East Asia, it now grows all over the world with a huge range of varieties from the bulbous, glossy, deep purple zeppelin-shaped version to the scarcely-bigger-than-a-pea variety.
Fruit Picker Shortage?
Last summer, the great British farming community began to raise concern about fruit pickers. The majority of pickers come from abroad on a seasonal basis. In fact, according to the National Farmers Union, only 1% of the annual 60,000 seasonal farm workers are British. The industry relies on overseas labour which they worry will be deeply affected by Brexit. The vast majority come from Eastern Europe, particularly Bulgaria and Romania. With a stay of execution until Halloween, the farmers might breathe a sigh of relief for this year, but the problem still looms.
Last year, labour shortages driven by economic shifts affected strawberry crops in particular; with produce left rotting in the fields and hydroponic poly-tunnels. At the time, there was also a reported 30 to 40% shortfall in labour.
Some are campaigning for a seasonal agricultural workers scheme that could include countries outside of the EU. This would allow pickers to come and work for a defined and limited period of time as a solution. Or some maintain that the best way to avoid a crisis is to entice more Brits to work the field. The early hours, long days, physical toll and seasonality are offset by the joy of working in the open air and earning as much as you can pick.
Yet again, the NEC surpassed all expectations with its five-in-one show, the Farm Shop and Deli Show 2019, incorporating Foodex, Food and Drink Expo, The Ingredients Show and the National Convenience Show. The event took place from 8 to 10 April. It returned for its ninth year as the sector’s leading event for delicatessens, garden centres, farm shops, restaurants, food halls, bakeries and butcheries.
This year saw more than 450 suppliers exhibiting. These encompassed all core food categories and contemporary trend categories; including candles, stationery, furniture and home goods, together with equipment, labelling and packaging.
2019 placed heavy emphasis on healthy and natural produce with exhibitors showcasing their products in the ‘Healthy & Natural’ area. There were plenty of natural, vegan-friendly snacks on display for this year’s hot trend.
Back by popular demand, the Show featured the British Baker’s Britain’s Best Loaf 2019. Over 150 bakers entered in a range of categories, including Best Sourdough, Best Wholegrain and Best Gluten Free Loaf. The overall winner was a wholemeal sourdough created by East Sussex’s Poppyseed Bakery.
The Dragon’s Pantry slot saw competitors presenting their best new product ideas in a 15-minute pitch in. The reward for successful pitchers was winning professional advice on the best route to market.
Of course, the renowned Farm Shop & Deli Awards were eagerly awaited. Back for their sixth year, they recognise the very best independent retailers. There were 12 category winners: baker, butcher, cheesemonger, delicatessen, farm shop large retailer of the year, farm shop small retailer of the year, fishmonger, food hall, greengrocer, local shop or village store, newcomer of the year and online business of the year. Overall winner was Cannon Hall Farm Shop from Barnsley.
The Farm Shop & Deli Show 2019 Live stage witnessed a host of industry leaders sharing their thoughts and experience. These ranged from ethical eating, the rise of gin and tapping into the healthy appetite for the wellness market. Top of the bill was the ‘Plastic to palm oil’ discussion addressing consumers’ current eco-worries. The ‘Healthier beer’ discussion was another popular talk. This gave insight into the importance of burgeoning brews from gluten free to zero alcohol.
At the National Convenience Show, the Retailer Hub hosted a number of sessions including a discussion on ‘Success after Brexit: What’s next for food and grocery’. This highlighted the risks posed to the sector in a post-Brexit reality.
Farm Shop & Deli Show 2019 Commercial Director Mat Rose said: “The ongoing trend for artisan produce, provenance and entrepreneurial innovation has not slowed down in recent years and we are delighted to bring the Farm Shop & Deli Show back in 2019 to provide a platform for all the exciting companies and retailers who have devoted their careers to this sector.
Next year’s show is already recruiting; so if you want to exhibit or book tickets for the event, register your interest here.