GROWERS ARE leading the way when it comes to benchmarking, closely followed by beef and sheep farmers, a Food Chain Centre survey of 1200 holdings has shown.

The findings were revealed exclusively to FARMERS WEEKLY, and show that close to 30% of fresh produce growers are signed up to a benchmarking scheme. Sheep and beef farmers boast a 27% take-up rate.

These figures are behind the threefold increase in benchmarking to nearly a quarter of all farmers over the past two years.

Farmers in East Anglia lead the field with 36% of them involved in a benchmarking exercise.

Jon Woolven, FCC director said: “Knowing your true cost of production and comparing these figures in a confidential way is critical to making business decisions.

“Farmers that benchmark are in the best position to face the new marketplace after CAP reform.”

The top three reasons farmers gave for using benchmarking were understanding their costs better (60%), helping to reduce their costs (45%) and improving their returns (33%).

Once involved in benchmarking, 36% of farms use services ten times or more each year, while the majority (59%) of those involved do it with friends and associates.

*FCC will soon announce a major conference to be held next June in London, focusing on projects to date and looking at future expansion.