What is the real value of the farm shops sector in Great Britain?
The project – which is supported by researchers from the Food, Land and Agri-Business Management department recently established by Harper Adams – will seek to discover the impact that agricultural stores have not only on their local communities, farmers and suppliers, but also on the wider economy and rural landscape of the UK.
It is estimated that there are well over 1,000 locals across the country that would fall within the definition of a farm store – although the research will aim to clarify this as it seeks to get a clearer picture of the area.
It will also draw on the views of members of the Farm Retail Association, who are due to receive a survey in the coming days asking for their views on the sector, its impact, etc.
It is expected that the survey results will be released in the spring of next year.
Alastair Boot, Senior Lecturer in Food Retail and Marketing, is part of the team at Harper Adams University, the UK’s leading specialist university for the agri-food and rural business sectors, who will lead the research.
He said, “We know that farm shops are valued – both by the retail and agricultural sectors, and by the communities they serve.
“Many of us will have a favorite farm shop in our area, for example – and there has been evidence over the past 18 months that, as we all strive to stay local, retail models have changed – with a growing appetite for UK farm shops.
“However, there is a need to get a sense of the sector as a whole and its impact across the country – and this is where our research, commissioned by the Farm Retail Association, will come into play.
Once we develop this clearer understanding, it can be used to advocate for the interests of the country’s existing agricultural stores and to help further develop the sector.
President Rob Copley said: “This is the largest research project FRA has ever undertaken and the results will be the flag of our industry.
“We encourage all agricultural retailers to participate in this national survey to get a clear idea of the value of our sector to the economy and to reflect the vital role our agricultural retailers play in communities. This will then not only help promote agricultural retailers, but also support these businesses with planning requests and funding offers. “