A new UK-wide project has been launched to determine the value of farm shops to the economy and local communities.
The Farm Retail Association (FRA) has teamed up with Harper Adams University for the project, which seeks to discover the impact farm shops have on local communities, farmers, suppliers and the wider economy.
FRA members will be asked to complete a survey as part of the project, with the results due next spring.
“We know that farm shops are valued – both by the retail and agricultural sectors, and by the communities they serve,” said Harper’s Senior Lecturer in Food Retail and Marketing Alastair Boot, who is carrying out the research.
“Many of us will have a favourite farm shop in our area, for instance – and there’s been some evidence over the past 18 months that, as we all strove to stay local, retail patterns have changed – with a growing appetite for British farm shops.”
He added: “However, there is a need to build up a picture 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 in.
“Once we develop that clearer understating, it can be used to make the case for the nation’s existing farm shops, and to help develop the sector further.”
Farm Retail Association chairman, Rob Copley, said the study was the biggest the association had ever undertaken and the results will “fly the flag for our industry”.
He added: “We are encouraging all farm retailers to take part in this nation-wide survey to get a clear picture of what our sector is worth to the economy and reflecting the vital role our farm retailers play in communities.
“This will then help not only promote farm retailers but also support those businesses with planning application and funding bids.”