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Give consumers the option to support non-imported food
[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
So, how to give customers the
to support UK farmers in a way that
doesn't make a supermarket
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
(say) 5% is added to the cost of all the
"FarmFriendly" items in their basket.
5% then goes straight back to the
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
that might. Or 10%, or 5%. And at least
I'd have the choice.
Responsibility as part of a brand image
Sainsbury "Farm Promise" milk - 5c of price goes to help farmers convert to organic. [jutta, May 31 2007]
Fairtrade brand, UK
Not focused on UK farmers, though. [jutta, May 31 2007]
Do you not have Farmer's Markets where you can go directly?
[xandram, Jun 01 2007]
||Wouldn't it be simplier to vividly label the goods with the place of origin / production?
||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).
||//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.
||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.
||//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
||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
||[Good to see people supporting the UK
fishing industry here, btw]
||// 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.
||//I'd feel that the charitable organization
is trying to exploit that pressure.// Yes -
I'd have to agree with you there - fair
||I don't think this is a bad idea, but can't you just go to local farmstands or farmer's markets?
||//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.
||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
||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?
||What dunderhead posted this lame idea?
||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.
||// 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.
||//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.
||//change the playing field// into a farm? but where
would all the kids play football?
||//where would all the kids play football// Feed
them enough high fructose corn syrup and that won't
be an issue.
||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] 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.
||// [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.
||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.
||Hey, [Alterother] have you got Prince Albert in a
||// 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.
||Bollocks. There's already the venerable tradition of
||// Hey, [Alterother] have you got Prince Albert in a can?
||Nah, we let him out ages ago.