Bring farm and factory closer

By Sarah Britton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Collaboration Agriculture

partnership aims to increase collaboration between farmers and food manufacturers

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has joined forces with farming organisations to bring food manufacturers and farmers together after a survey of 3,500 UK food businesses showed the potential for improved trading relations.

The FDF is to meet English Farming and Food Partnerships (EFFP) and the National Farmers' Union (NFU) at the end of March to look at how they can increase the number of collaborations between farmers and processors over the next year. "The stage we are at is finding manufacturers and processors who have collaborated and asking them about benefits of the relationship," said Stuart Thomson, EFFP associate director. "Then we need to work out how the FDF and NFU are going to market the idea to their members."

In the EFFP survey, three-quarters of respondents claimed that a thriving farming industry was important to their success. But while 80% of processors would prefer to source from the region in which they operate, only one third currently do so. "There has never been a more important time to focus on building better relationships between processors, manufacturers and primary producers," said the FDF.

However, farmers had to overcome certain hurdles, before gaining processors' trust, warned the EFFP. "The perceived inability of British farmers to meet product quality, consistency and service demands is seen as a key weakness," it said. "Together with a perception that farmers can be easily persuaded to sell to new customers, this points to a lack of commitment to customers and to meeting customer needs and results in a lack of trust in farmers as suppliers."

NFU president Peter Kendall said the NFU was keen for farmers to change. "For 20 years, we've been perceived as a pain in the backside. Traditional farming hasn't always understood the market."

Forthcoming reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy meant that farmers had to focus more on the market, he said.

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