Time to embrace the consumer, says Kelly

Farmers must do more to embrace the media and general public if they want to add value to their products, according to Paul Kelly at Kelly Turkeys.

Speaking at the recent South West Chicken Association conference in Devon, he said consumer perception was everything, and farmers needed to work harder to engage with their ultimate customers. “Everything we do is about producing what the consumer wants. Agriculture has continually closed its doors to its customers – although it is getting better – which has been fundamentally wrong. The reality is that the public loves farmers, and we should be proud and passionate about our business.”

Consumers were prepared to pay premium prices for premium products, as long as they perceived extra value for themselves, he added. “Food is fashion, and at Kelly’s we have to accept that not everyone can be our customer. We have to target sales areas where people are likely to want our product, and concentrate on adding margin not volume.”

Farmers should welcome the public and media on to their farm, attend meetings and fetes, and strive to meet consumer expectations. “Don’t assume that people know what you’re doing. And know your product inside out; I’m continually amazed at the amount of farmers who produce turkey but don’t know how to cook or carve it. The public want good, honest farming, and there are poultry farmers out there who can be great ambassadors and salesmen for the industry.”

Should poultry farmers be more open with the public? See our Poultry Platform forum debate for a range of views.

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