Farmers in Derbyshire are using vending machines to provide locals with a “one-stop shop” for staple foods during the coronavirus crisis, including frozen beef reared on the farm.
Ed and Laura Pott, who farm in partnership with their father John, started selling eggs direct to customers through a vending machine installed at Watergo Farm more than three years ago.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Pott told Farmers Weekly that sales of their organic eggs have “really rocketed” at the 242ha farm, which is based in Mickleover, Derby.
On average, 1,000 dozen eggs are being sold through the vending machine every week and the farmers are also selling about 60-70 trays of eggs every day.
The Potts have now installed two more vending machines – one frozen and one chilled – to sell their products and a range other locally sourced goods.
Mrs Pott said: “We have had to rapidly extend our product range since Covid-19 as we found people wanted a small one-stop shop rather than a supermarket.
“This means we can vend milk, yoghurts, cheese, butter, coffee beans, British strawberries, eggs, honey and our own British beef.”
Local abattoir used
The farmers rear a small herd of Aberdeen-Angus cross cows and the animals are slaughtered at a small abattoir in Uttoxeter.
The meat is then returned and sold through the vending machine and other outlets.
Mr Pott said: “We were hoping to sell our own frozen ice-cream through the vending machine, we now have permission to do so.
“But since the coronavirus, we decided to put our frozen beef in it.
“People come and take photos of themselves by the cows and the hens and then buy the products from the machines.
“Unlike the supermarkets, it’s really giving them that farm-to-fork experience. We are finding that more people want to buy local, British food direct from the farm.
“It could be a knock-on effect of the coronavirus, people’s ideas about food shopping changing, or both.”
Farmers Weekly is getting behind the #FeedtheNation campaign to back UK farmers working flat out to produce safe, affordable and reliable food to feed the nation during the coronavirus crisis.
With our partners, we are raising public awareness of this campaign by highlighting the actions farmers are taking to get food to consumers.