Britain’s farm retail trade generates £1.4bn/$1.74bn per 12 months, in line with 2022 analysis carried out by Harper Adams College and funded by the Farm Retail Affiliation. There are greater than 1,500 farm outlets nationwide, a 3rd of which have opened within the final decade. Regardless of the financial uncertainty triggered by the pandemic, the overwhelming majority of shops (89%) have skilled a rise in gross sales since 2019.
Brexit and meals safety considerations have pushed shoppers in direction of shopping for extra locally-produced meals – in line with Statista, the share of home meals consumed nationwide rose to a brand new excessive of 58% in 2021, up from 54% in 2020. Procuring attitudes have additionally shifted in favor of native shops – Statista reveals that round 40% of grownup shoppers supposed to extend purchases from native shops in 2019, versus 60% in 2020.
The pandemic additionally influenced shopper habits, with extra youthful shoppers visiting farm and speciality meals shops in 2020, whereas over 55s – essentially the most frequent customers of such shops pre-pandemic – are opting to buy on-line.
This habits development has influenced product and model improvement within the final two years. Daring messaging round sustainability was evident throughout lots of the stalls we visited at this 12 months’s Speciality & Fantastic Meals Honest as producers promoted choices designed to enchantment to a youthful demographic.
Cheesemakers rebrand with louder branding and sustainability messaging
Farmer-owned co-operative Natural Herd, which rebranded from Omsco in August 2023, offered for the primary time its vary of 14 new merchandise of flavored and conventional butters, ingesting chocolate, chocolate bars, and cheese. Wrapped in colourful packaging – from magenta and teal to navy and yellow – emblazoned with a playful typeface, the consumer-facing vary is prepared to enter delis and farm outlets nationwide. Venture supervisor Richard Lakeman informed DairyReporter that one of many co-op’s priorities is to get its message in regards to the significance of natural farming by way of to shoppers – particularly youthful ones. “We are attempting to be disruptive,” he informed us. “Organics have been undervalued within the UK, and we wish to get shoppers to consider how we farm.”
Pointing in direction of the ‘How We Farm Issues’ badge splashed throughout the entrance label of every merchandise, he added that the vary might enchantment to those that purchase into the co-op’s values and are climate-conscious. “Our cows are grass-fed and likewise free vary, and our farmers don’t use herbicides, which helps with biodiversity within the areas the place they farm,” Lakeman mentioned. “This launch is so thrilling for them as a result of it actually brings one thing new to the desk – and all earnings will profit the identical farmers who make them.”
Requested in regards to the shopper group the co-op is concentrating on, Lakeman mentioned it’s the youthful demographic, together with Gen Z. “That is the problem we now have at our arms, convincing the youthful consumers who’re extra involved about their impression on the surroundings to purchase into the natural ethos.”
This sentiment was shared by the workforce at Golden Hooves, the buyer model of dairy co-operative First Milk. Leona McDonald, enterprise unit director at First Milk, informed us it was necessary to get throughout the message about regenerative agriculture and the way the co-op’s farmers are making a distinction by way of actions corresponding to soil carbon sequestration. “It’s a mindset and it by no means stops,” she informed us. The co-op’s give attention to regenerative ag is hoped to assist entice youthful consumers to Golden Hooves’ vary of cheddars – which now features a Classic Cheddar which was offered on the tradeshow alongside the model’s Mature Cheddar product. “We’re positively seeing extra younger folks in farm outlets than we did earlier than,” McDonald informed us. “They care extra in regards to the surroundings and the place their meals comes from. So we wish to faucet into that emotional facet. And it helps that our cheese tastes good!”
Somerset-based natural cheddar producer Godminster additionally underwent a rebrand just lately. Based in 1993 and as we speak providing a spread of flavored and conventional cheddars in varied sizes and shapes, the corporate’s new branding took two years to be realized and provides throwbacks to the area’s wealthy historical past and, effectively, traditions in dairy farming and cheesemaking.
One other British cheese producer current on the present, the Cheshire Cheese Firm – which was acquired by Joseph Heler final 12 months – additionally revealed new branding in 2023, giving its cheeses ‘a up to date look’ with the hope this may create a ‘cohesive first impression’ to new clients.
Cheesemakers need Gen Z to take word – however what do younger consumers need?
Convincing climate-conscious millennials and Gen Z consumers to buy dairy merchandise by way of style and sustainability messaging is an apparent avenue to pursue, however as with all enterprise enterprise, there are dangers.
Whereas millennials gave the impression to be ‘the most important advocates’ for procuring at farm outlets (41%), in line with 2021 analysis by HGEM, all different age teams favored premium supermarkets.
Whereas there’s been a progress within the variety of youthful shoppers visiting speciality and farm outlets lately, older, wealthier demographics nonetheless type a big a part of the buyer base. Youthful consumers are additionally more and more fascinated with dairy alternate options, with 49% of Gen Zers stating they ‘felt ashamed’ to order dairy in public.
However there are different components that make this demographic unpredictable. Ayisha Koyenikan, affiliate director at Mintel, was among the many panelists throughout a dialogue entitled Exploring the Energy of Insights for NPD held on the present. She revealed that Gen Zers worth affordability and style above all else. “For those who consider the media, you’d suppose Gen Z are sober, tremendous health-conscious, eco-warriors, all their actions result in saving the planet. However there’s a big hole between their aspirations and their behaviors.
“For those who ask Gen Z what their priorities are about foods and drinks, ethics comes thus far down the dimensions.” – Ayisha Koyenikan, Mintel
“A lot of them nonetheless stay with their dad and mom – they don’t have the cash to purchase essentially the most moral or the healthiest merchandise. For those who consider the hype and don’t persuade them that your product is tasty and it’s good worth for cash, you will fail.”
DairyReporter requested Koyenikan if dairy producers we noticed on the present had been taking too large a threat with product traces designed to enchantment to the youthful technology, significantly Gen Z. “What we have to bear in mind is that Gen Z isn’t monolithic,” she informed us. “There are Gen Zers to whom these merchandise would enchantment, corresponding to those that are older and who’ve the disposable earnings and the curiosity in making an attempt one thing new and indulgent.
“However then [producers] must give attention to values, on getting their messaging throughout. And in addition be aware of issues like packaging selections or portion sizes and codecs that will enchantment to that demographic.”