Graphic: Calculating the dough brought into city’s tills by Norfolk’s food web
copyright: Archant 2013
The “local food web” which brings Norfolk’s bounty of farm produce into Norwich’s shops is worth £10.6m a year in sales to independent retailers in the city.
The CPRE report
The CPRE report’s findings come mainly from the work of volunteers as part of a food web mapping project which ran from 2007 to 2012.
Norwich residents interviewed and surveyed shoppers, shops and producers for the study, which also highlights some of the challenges facing independent food enterprises. These include:
nMany businesses producing and selling local food are small or micro-businesses and can lack time and funds for marketing.
nThe perception that local food is more expensive and too many shoppers fail to appreciate the benefits of buying it.
nDespite an abundance of food grown or reared in Norfolk shoppers and outlets said too little was available – some said the sector was largely ‘hidden’.
The report’s recommendations to develop and strengthen the local food web included:
nLocal authority policies should support local food to strengthen retail diversity, tourism and the rural economy.
nBusinesses should work together to promote Norwich as a local food destination and cut costs through shared distribution and delivery schemes.
nResidents should support outlets stocking Norfolk foods and encourage others to “stock local”.
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That is the conclusion of a new survey by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) which aims to quantify the value of the county’s network of growers, producers and retailers, and the benefits it brings to livelihoods in the city and its surrounding rural hinterland.
The report, named From Field to Fork: Norwich, says “local food” supports around 1,400 jobs, directly and indirectly, at outlets in Norwich and suppliers across the county.
It also finds that local food sales make up more than half the turnover at 70pc of independent outlets surveyed, and the network supports trade of nearly £52m across at least 150 suppliers based within a 30-mile radius of the city centre.
Graeme Willis, food and farming campaigner for CPRE, said: “There’s no better time to launch this report than during the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival. With the growing interest in the fantastic local produce Norfolk has to offer, this report brings hard evidence of why local food does much more locally than reduce food miles.
“Norwich has its fair share of the big national chains offering the usual corporate fare but the local food web increases choice for Norwich’s shoppers.
“It gives them access to the freshest, highest quality produce.
“It gives them the choice to support local businesses and to keep more of their money in the local economy.
“High streets have been struggling across the country, so it’s more important than ever that we value and support the local food outlets that add an extra dimension to shopping in cities like Norwich.
“They help maintain the individual character of the city and, by supporting a wide range of local producers, sustain the diversity and vibrancy of Norfolk’s glorious countryside.”
South West Norfolk MP and environment secretary Elizabeth Truss, who used her speech at this week’s Conservative party conference to champion British food, said: “This report shows what a thriving local industry food and farming is in Norfolk – I want to see us build on that and make even more of the area’s world-class produce.
“I had some fantastic delicious bacon and sausages from pigs reared around Oxburgh Hall when I took part in the annual ‘Walk the Pork’ event there earlier this month.
It’s a shining example of quality local production and a short supply chain, bringing the fork and the field closer together.”
What’s your favourite Norfolk food?
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