Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Give consumers the option to support non-imported food
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[Sorry if this idea seems UK-centric; it's meant equally applicable to any country but uses the UK as an example]

In the UK, farmers have a bad time because food prices are so low, driven down by supermarket chains and by competition from imports. Many sectors of farming barely break even at present.

A good proportion of UK people claim to want to support UK-produced food. Indeed, produce is often marked as "English" or "British" as a selling point (even if it has only been packaged in the UK - a piece of consumer deception).

I would like to be able to support UK farmers, but I don't have the option of paying an extra few pence for a litre of UK-produced milk or a pound of minced beef.

So, how to give customers the opportunity to support UK farmers in a way that doesn't make a supermarket uncompetitive?

Adopt a standard, easily-recognised "FarmFair" (or whatever) logo to identify food produced by local (UK) farmers. At the checkout, the customer is asked if they want to pay the "FarmFair" charge or not. If they don't, fine - they pay the regular low price. If they do, then an extra (say) 5% is added to the cost of all the "FarmFriendly" items in their basket. This 5% then goes straight back to the farmers. It is, in effect, a donation to support farming in the UK.

Rather than deterring customers (as a simple price-hike would), I think this might actually attract customers: the supermarket can claim to give customers the option to support our local farmers, whilst still offering and advertising the "regular" low prices.

Even if 80% of customers choose not to pay the "FarmFair" charge, there's still 20% that might. Or 10%, or 5%. And at least I'd have the choice.

MaxwellBuchanan, May 29 2007

Responsibility as part of a brand image http://www.j-sainsb...geid=65&caseid=milk
Sainsbury "Farm Promise" milk - 5c of price goes to help farmers convert to organic. [jutta, May 31 2007]

Fairtrade brand, UK http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
Not focused on UK farmers, though. [jutta, May 31 2007]

Do you not have Farmer's Markets where you can go directly? http://www.ams.usda...mersmarkets/map.htm
[xandram, Jun 01 2007]


       Wouldn't it be simplier to vividly label the goods with the place of origin / production?   

       e.g., Grown in the U.K.   

       Alternatively, you could tax imported foods to the point where local produce is cheaper, but that would put you in danger of MFD for advocacy (a rule I'd like to see changed, as economics are a powerful force for change).
nuclear hobo, May 30 2007

       //simplier to vividly label the goods with the place of origin// That is already done - I concealed that fact by stating it in the idea on the left.   

       //tax imported foods// no no no! The point is not to coerce anybody. The point is that a fair proportion of consumers in the UK would like to support UK farming, but have no easy means to do so: they can only pay the price that the supermarkets have negotiated. And you can't blame the supermarkets for that.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 31 2007

       Realistically, the way this is done is by introducing brands that have the farm support as part of their brand image. (Compare the "Fairtrade" brand.)   

       If you would like to support your local farmers, surely there must be some place that you can give money to without tying it to purchases of goods? There's really no reason to lay the cost of managing the extra monetary flow on the supermarket chain.
jutta, May 31 2007

       //by introducing brands that have the farm support// True, but then it becomes a small niche and is competing with existing products. The idea was to take existing products which are locally grown (and often marketed on that basis) and which are already on the supermarket shelves, and give shoppers the option to express their support without changing their purchases. (Or to just pay the supermarket price, if they prefer.)   

       //some place that you can give money // True again. In particular, there are farmers' markets and farm shops, where the farmers usually get a better return. However, many people are lazy rather than stingy, and will always do most of their shopping at supermarkets (this includes me). The aim was to make this a very easy (and optional) option which shoppers can feel virtuous about without making any effort, but which does benefit the farmers.   

       The comparison with "Fair trade" is a good one inasmuch as people buy fairtrade largely because they want to help, and it is no additional effort to do so: it's psychologically half-way between regular shopping and charity. This would be similar in that respect, but different in implementation.   

       And re. the "Farm Promise" milk - yes, and there are a few other things like this, but they are very limited. Supermarkets like to be seen to support UK farmers because the public likes the idea; but it eats into their profit margins, so they can't be expected to take it much further. By implementing "FarmFair", the supermarkets are seen to be helping the farmers even though it's the customer who (if they wish) actually pays for it.   

       / lay the cost of managing the extra monetary flow on the supermarket chain.// True, and supermarkets would not do it if it weren't popular. However, as noted, they like to be seen to promote UK producers, and so this scheme might (?) work to their advantage. And, given that the whole thing operates through the same computer-linked tils that they have at present, and given that they already have the trading links with the suppliers, this may not cost them a lot. I'm not expecting any supermarket to do anything that's not in its own interest.   

       [Good to see people supporting the UK fishing industry here, btw]
MaxwellBuchanan, May 31 2007

       One more thing:   

       // At the checkout, the customer is asked if they want to pay the "FarmFair" charge or not.   

       This (being asked to contribute money to a cause at the cash register) has happened to me once. I can't speak for others, but for me, that makes me feel put on the spot, and I hate that - it's no longer about whether I want to give money, but whether I want to be seen by the clerk and the people around me as generous / patriotic / what have you, and I'd feel that the charitable organization is trying to exploit that pressure. I avoided the store for a while after that.   

       Not to say that that would be the majority reaction; but there *is* a cost to not disguising these contributions within the product.
jutta, May 31 2007

       //I'd feel that the charitable organization is trying to exploit that pressure.// Yes - I'd have to agree with you there - fair point.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 31 2007

       I don't think this is a bad idea, but can't you just go to local farmstands or farmer's markets?
[see link]
xandram, Jun 01 2007

       //but can't you just go to local farmstands or farmer's markets// Yes, one can, as I noted couple of annos back. The point is that even well- meaning people are lazy, and farmers' markets are few and far between compared to supermarkets (at least in the UK - surely elsewhere too?). This was meant to be as hassle-free as possible for the consumer, because people's altruism runs only so far.   

       However, I think [Jutta]'s last point is probably the killer.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 01 2007

       Now suddenly, at the near future you just load up the farmfair app on you handything with money then take a picture of what you like at the grocery store, the actual comestible originators gets some paypal funds   

       this has the eerie advantage of being able to support locally produced foods without actually eating them
beanangel, Nov 30 2011

       This is an optional tax to subsidize a non-competitive industry. Rather than paying the farmers more to remain non-competitive, why not use such money to fund research into farming methods and technologies that will make the industry more competitive?
swimswim, Nov 30 2011

       What dunderhead posted this lame idea?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 30 2011

       The answer may be to get farmers to be more 'vertically integrated' and own the whole supply chain to the consumer. We see this already with "veg boxes" and the like. Which reminds me - when I grew up in London in the 70's we had unpasteurised milk delivered in glass bottles to our door every morning by some enterprising farmer.
hippo, Nov 30 2011

       // This is an optional tax to subsidize a non- competitive industry //   

       In order to be competitive they would need to work under the same conditions as their overseas counterparts or at least hire migrant workers.   

       1st world countries are short-sightedly content to give away all their money to other countries. The long-term result being that the importers working conditions decline towards that of the exporter.
marklar, Nov 30 2011

       //In order to be competitive they would need to work under the same conditions as their overseas counterparts or at least hire migrant workers.//   

       No, they could also be competitive by working under different conditions. Invest in R&D to give them a strategic advantage; change the playing field.
swimswim, Nov 30 2011

       //change the playing field// into a farm? but where would all the kids play football?
marklar, Dec 04 2011

       //where would all the kids play football// Feed them enough high fructose corn syrup and that won't be an issue.
mouseposture, Dec 04 2011

       Out here in the sticks, we have these things called Farmer's Markets, where local farmers can go to sell their produce directly to the public. When the weather is nice, you can find one in nearly every major population center (by Maine standards, that means three or more houses and a gas station in close proximity).   

       Oh, looks like somebody else already mentioned it. Still, why doesn't this exist in other countries? I'm reasonably certain Americans didn't start this tradition. In fact, I'm not sure if we've ever started any traditions at all; I think most of them were brought over here from Europe and liberally slathered with red, white, and blue paint.
Alterother, Dec 04 2011

       [Alterother] Not that the US invented red, white & blue flags either.   

       There are plenty of fruit and veg markets, bakeries and butcher's shops in the UK, but people would rather visit the supermarket for everything. I think the co-op was originally set up to offer a common place to sell/buy all these things, but got beaten out of business by the supermarkets.
marklar, Dec 05 2011

       //       [Alterother] Not that the US invented red, white & blue flags either.    //   

       We most certainly did not, but we were the ones who came up with the idea of slathering our national motif across virtually any consumer product and calling it 'patriotic', then socially condemning those who don't display every patriotic item they can buy during various traditional events that we didn't create.
Alterother, Dec 05 2011

       My local supermarket has a "locally produced" shelf tag that shows up on some items. The problem is that its cheaper for the supermarket to buy in large quantity for all its stores, which typically means a wholesaler, than in small quantity from local farms. The wholesaler also saves them from having to source a given item differently depending on whether it is in season locally or not.   

       This means the premium prices for local are even higher, less of the premium goes to farmers, and markets are less likely to carry it even if they can get it. It also means those "locally produced" labels are far more likely to show up on mass production items that happen to have a local factory (Polar Sodas are the main one I notice) than they are on produce.
MechE, Dec 05 2011

       Hey, [Alterother] have you got Prince Albert in a can?
mouseposture, Dec 05 2011

       // I'm not sure if we've ever started any traditions at all// Well, you won't know for sure for another three or four centuries.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 05 2011

       Bollocks. There's already the venerable tradition of Yank-bashing.
mouseposture, Dec 05 2011

       // Hey, [Alterother] have you got Prince Albert in a can? //   

       Nah, we let him out ages ago.
Alterother, Dec 06 2011


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