In early February 40 farmers from around the joined John and Linda Stanley, John Stanley Associates on a roving workshop around the northern part of the UK. Delegates arrived at Manchester Airport from Czech, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Scotland and the USA. This tour was more than a look and see, each stop included a one hour workshop with the farm owners to analyse why they were doing what they did, to review the figures and to look at new strategies to grow businesses in the farm retail sector.
The delegates were at various stages in developing their own businesses and were in the UK to look at new ideas.
Visits included stops at Gonalston Farm Shop, Booths Supermarket, Farmer Copley’s and Red House Farm. The aim was to study local food retailing carried out by famers using traditional marketing methods, food halls and farmers markets.
The message taken away by delegates was that to be successful you need to be passionate about what you do and build trust with the consumer to gain their confidence. Marketing was a key issue and the use of social media as a marketing tool is something that needs to be studied carefully by all farmers wanting to develop their business in the short supply chain situation.
The tour finished at the national FARMA conference in Harrogate where the 40 delegates were joined by a further 200 delegates from around the UK.
The overseas delegates had the opportunity to share ideas with the British farm delegates and identify the important issues. The tour occurred at the same time as the “Horsegate” scandal and butchery on the farm was a hot topic. It showed the opportunities that farmers and small retailers had and it was interesting to see who looked at this as an opportunity and who let the opportunity pass by.
At the end of the tour the group had a wrap up session to discuss what they would implement in their own store.
We had planned on a 30 minute wrap up session and an hour later we were still discussing ideas.
The key points were;
- Social media is a key tool to success moving forward as an industry
- Story telling around the product needs to be improved
- We need to market our values to the consumer
- We have a window of opportunity and we need to grab that now, leave it a year and it could be too late
- Passion is the key to success
The tour was organised by John Stanley Associates form Perth in Western Australia. John works with farmers around the world developing marketing and retailing opportunities. for more information.