HRH the Countess of Wessex has urged farmers to ‘move with the times’ and work with retailers and each other to develop their businesses.

Opening a wet Royal Show at Stoneleigh on Sunday (1 July), Sophie Wessex, currently president of the Royal Agricultural Society for England, said the theme of her presidency was ‘from Pasture to Plate’.

As part of this, she was spending time talking to farmers in order to hear about the challenges they face.  But she was also taking time to hold meetings with retailers to ask what they were doing to support British agriculture.

“I have been impressed to learn about the amount of work going on in many of our largest retailers,” she said.

“I am encouraged that for those who want success it is possible to work with these large organisations, many of which have helped and worked with farmers, directly influencing their business success.”

The Countess said that the level of customer awareness about the provenance of food was increasing and so were retailer attitudes.

“Retailer attitudes are also changing and they do want to work closer with farmers. They do want a quality supply chain and they are aware of their responsibilities to their suppliers.

“The big retailing industry is moving forward at a pace and it is clear that in order for British farming to maintain and increase its foothold within that market, farmers must be prepared to move and change too. I don’t say this glibly. I am acutely aware of the time it takes to plan and produce what it required and I know some of the problems that many farmers have experienced.

“But the reality is that if our British farmers don’t move with the times, there are plenty of foreign farmers that will.”

For more stories from the Royal Show see our full event coverage.