UK Farmers selling cheaper food direct to public

 ?I?m hugely optimistic. People say, ?Ah, you?re never going to get people out of supermarkets?, but I really think it is going to happen.? Anthony Davison, founder of the Big Barn website, certainly hopes so anyway. For 14 years he has been energetically promoting farm shops and local producers and now, he and other food retailers argue, things are genuinely starting to shift.
?A few years ago when you surveyed people, 80% of them said they?d like to buy more local food, but only 20% were doing it,? says Davison. ?Now it?s 85% and 25%. It?s not a revolution, but the numbers are going the right way. People are changing. Tesco has stopped opening stores, and is now focusing online. That?s great for local ? many of which sell online too. In fact, in Bristol we?ve just started a Big Barn delivery service for ?1. People can buy meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, baked goods, the lot. All online.? His website is a vast directory for local food, with thousands of local producers listed. Its goal is to become a comprehensive listing site for the UK?s rapidly growing local food network.
?Many of my family are farmers, and I got the idea for Big Barn when we realised that my uncle was selling onions to Tesco for ?120 a tonne, and they were selling them on for ?800 a tonne,? he says. ?Farm shops can sell you better food, cheaper. Consumers have a perception that food is cheaper from supermarkets, because it says it on TV all the time. But actually the quality isn?t nearly as good, and you end up buying stuff you don?t want ? that DVD at the end of the aisle for example. We?ve been working to highlight this ? so now when you search our database for local suppliers, some have red ? signs which indicate that this supplier has measured their produce against their supermarket and it comes up cheaper.?
Innovation and dynamism are far easier for small shops, he points out. ?We also run a scheme called Crop for the Shop, where if you?ve got a glut of something you?re growing in your garden, you can take it in to one of the farmshops with a little golden medallion symbol, and get credit notes for some of the value of your food. And some shops have food swaps where, if you?ve made lots of tomato sauce for example, you can swap it some for pudding.?
Ben Pugh heartily agrees. The founder of Farmdrop ? an online marketplace for farmers and fishermen to sell to their local communities ? had a similar Eureka moment during a meeting on a farm in Kent. The farmer was selling butternut squash for ?1 each, which were being driven by lorry to a London supermarket which was selling them on for ?3.