Beef farmer turns away long-distance orders as local demand rockets during lockdown
PUBLISHED: 11:50 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:50 28 April 2020
A Norfolk cattle farmer is battling to keep up with rocketing demand for her beef during the lockdown – and she hopes it could signal a long-term change in food-buying habits after the coronavirus crisis ends.
Nicola Chapman runs the award-winning Waveney herd of 70 pedigree Belted Galloways with her husband David at Carr Farm in Burgh St Peter, near Beccles.
The farm delivers meat directly to consumers through a box scheme – but it is currently turning away courier orders to the rest of the country because there has been so much lockdown demand from within 10 miles of the farm.
While many consumers are seeking out alternatives to mass-produced or imported foods from supermarkets, Mrs Chapman said more people are choosing to support local producers and want to buy meat directly from high-welfare sources like her grass-fed “Pasture for Life” cattle.
And she hopes these trends can continue beyond the end of the current crisis.
“If it means the whole food network becomes more local that would be wonderful,” she said.
“When this initially hit us, we thought we were going to lose the markets and the food festivals for selling, and there was also an issue getting animals into the abattoir to start with. But then above and beyond that, there has been such a big push from people wanting to buy locally.
“They have not been wanting to go into the supermarkets if they could help it so, if you can deliver, they want that. There is no way we can keep up with demand for our product at the moment.
“We usually courier out to different parts of the country but all our customers at the moment are local. For people within 10 miles, we are delivering those ourselves. We are turning away courier orders because there are so many local people now wanting to come back and buy from us. Long may it continue.
“I am hopeful. Even if just 10pc of those people decide to stick with us and change their shopping habits beyond all this it would be fantastic for local food producers.
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“A lot of people are interested in how food is produced. Their buying habits are already changing and they are thinking about the environment and animal welfare and things like that.
“There is so much good local food available and we don’t need to be shipping loads of stuff in out of season – especially not beef. There is a really good beef industry in this country, and most of the beef is really good. There shouldn’t be any need for there to be foreign beef in our supermarkets.”
Mrs Chapman is part of the Ladies in Beef movement which runs Great British Beef Week from April 23-30 to promote the meat produced by the nation’s livestock farmers.
As this year’s campaign began, National Farmers Union (NFU) president Minette Batters, who is also a beef farmer, said it was “indefensible” for some supermarket shelves to be dominated by imported beef at a time when British prime cuts are in plentiful supply and in desperate need of a market.
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She said: “The sudden closure of restaurants due to coronavirus and the wider impact on the food service sector has meant prime cuts of British beef are being held in storage with nowhere to go. As these cuts are the highest quality and most valuable, farmers depend on these being sold.
“At a time when retailers should be supporting British farmers more than ever and promoting these quality cuts of British beef, it is indefensible that customers who want to support British farmers by buying British food are only finding Irish cuts on shelves in some stores.”
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