August 6th, 2020 Newsletter

Eat Out [But Avoid Chains] to Help Out [Local Enterprises]

The National Food Strategy, Part 1 has just been released by the Government and is a welcome insight to many of the failures of our industrialised and concentrated food system not least how volatile it is when shocks hit, such as COVID.

In response to the hospitality sector stresses, the Government has just announced a month long scheme; Eat Out to Help Out that will give consumers a discount on food purchased ‘out’ on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays. Many chains have signed up to this scheme including those such as Wetherspoons (avoid by using the app: Neverspoons) who are already receiving massive subsidies from the government and scored 0/6 in our pig welfare survey (see below). Why not reserve this support for independent local restaurants and pubs who keep more of their profits in the local economy, compared to omnipresent chains like Greggs and Subway, whose profits go to global investors.

During lockdown, the closure of local restaurants, hotels and pubs – one of the most valuable markets for local food producers – created an ever bigger market for supermarkets who pre COVID controlled 97% of the market and rarely buy from local producers . In June of this year, customers from over 100,000 small restaurants redirected their custom to supermarkets, so why give them massive Government bail out subsidies? Instead we should follow Wales who is excluding the largest premises from accessing the relief as it plans to divert the savings (which it claims will amount to £120m) to help smaller businesses and charities.

We recently conducted a Pig Welfare Survey of 60 popular high street supermarkets & food chains scoring their supply of high welfare products. As lockdown lifts, informed choices when eating out can help save both our independent hospitality sector and our precious small scale independent farmers from the onslaught of cheap toxic produce from abroad, most of which is produced to standards banned in the UK. If the welfare of the meat isn’t written on the menu, there is no harm in asking!

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Our #RootingForRealFarms lockdown videos show the resilience of many small scale independent farmers, abattoirs, distributors and shops in altering their sales systems to supplying local needs. Dews Meadow Farm in Oxfordshire breed Oxford Sandy and Blacks, reared outside where the meat is sold in the farm shop. During COVID, when only 1 customer could enter at a time, “[business has] gone really mad with online deliveries and click & collect service has been very busy’. During normal times, Dews Meadow does one delivery day a week, which has gone up to 4-5 days a week – they hope to hang on to the new customers!

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