Food Chain Co-operation will be a must

THE NEED for co-operation among producers and other sectors of the food industry will become more pressing in the future, farmers attending the Great North Meet were warned.

English Food and Farming Partnerships project manager David Hall said experts from outside the industry will be needed, to increase the options for adding value to food.

“We think collaboration along the food chain will lead to greater profits, not higher prices for food,” said Mr Hall. “But don’t expect short-term gains – we must build long-term commitment, as well as trust. That will hopefully lead to shared rewards.”

 Farmers were not the only group under pressure – supermarkets were also being urged to cut costs, he added.

Most producers surveyed by the EFFP had reported that lack of opportunity was preventing more collaboration.

“Our role is to change that,” explained Mr Hall. “Eight out of ten farmers we consulted said they wanted to collaborate more. But some producers are still unaware of the benefits. The lack of confidence in farmer-controlled businesses is also a barrier. The situation is very different in other parts of Europe, where there has been a long tradition of farmers working together.

 “We are working towards a solution, but we can”t have one party gaining at the other”s expense. There has to be something in it for both sides.”