5 December 2001
More farmers add value – survey
By Adrienne Francis
ADDING value to farm produce is helping farmers rebuild their businesses and take on new staff, a National Farmers Union survey has found.
Farmers are meeting a growing demand for pre-prepared food, by slicing and dicing fruit and vegetables and providing speciality meat cuts.
All interviewees increased their overall farm business profit margin by 5-40%, with an average 110% increase on the value of raw commodities.
Nearly 20% of farmers are adding value to their produce, with 60% of those having to take on extra staff.
NFU president Ben Gill said farmers are getting a better share of the retail pound for their products, and consumers will benefit as well.
“We are seeing a growing trend among farmers to get involved in producing the kinds of food we see on our supermarket shelves.
According to the survey, farmers could be helped further by more planning guidance and less bureaucracy, instead of existing “gold-plated” regulations.
Livestock farmers had shown the greatest innovation, it says, by preparing home-reared cuts like minted lamb, and selling direct to local consumers.
The Internet was shown to be increasingly important for the sale of value-added products, ahead of farm shops and local caterers.