Farmer Focus: Customers believe cheap food is a right

I’d like to start by wishing everyone a happy healthy 2022 and I hope everyone enjoyed Christmas.

For us, Christmas is the busiest time of year and as a family we enjoy Boxing Day far more.

With the hustle and bustle of Christmas week serving customers in the farm shop, Sharon with desserts everywhere, and the stress that an order may be missed and could ruin someone’s Christmas is draining.

About the author

Richard Orr
Richard Orr farms 160ha in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, with his wife and parents. He is an AHDB Monitor Farmer. Crops include wheat, oats, barley, potatoes and vegetables. The business also has a farm shop and beef cattle
Read more articles by Richard Orr

Rather than the usual excitement of Christmas Day, you wake on Christmas morning with the realisation that the adrenaline has run out and the stress is over for another year.

Just like the last day of sowing or harvest, the body shuts down and demands sleep.

The rush and stress does have its own buzz, but for the past couple years Covid has certainly put a dampener on it.

The tearoom business was very slow in December, with lack of confidence and fear leading up to Christmas.

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Customers didn’t want to take the risk over Christmas and understandably so.

But this has a knock-on effect right down the supply chain from the restaurant providing the Christmas party to the farmer growing the produce for the meal, and the picture doesn’t look any better in the new year.

I’d love to write something more positive in this new year but it’s difficult to find the bright light.

Once again, supermarkets have used Christmas to devalue the vegetable industry, with loss leaders to entice shoppers in to buy the expensive non-essential things in life.

They’ve trained the customers to believe cheap food is just a given right, devaluing the products for the rest of the season.

Going forward and looking for new contracts in 2022, farmers need to know their sums. These prices simply aren’t sustainable given massive rising production costs forced upon us.

I’ll try to finish on a positive. Given the situation across the globe, if we can see out 2022, I believe 2023 could be the year prices really rise.

Unless the weather creates a perfect season worldwide, I think it’ll be then, when supply and demand really turns in the favour for farmers.

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