Time for farmers to 'capitalise on Brand Yorkshire' to champion food and produce, Great Yorkshire Show seminar told

Capitalising on ‘Brand Yorkshire’ could bring a much-needed boost to the county’s food producers, rural champions suggest, wrestling challenges around rising inflation and costs.

Yorkshire is known for its culinary offering, alongside its rural tourism businesses and farming economies, seminars at the Great Yorkshire Show (GYS) were told yesterday.

Three independents shared their success stories over growth amid a perfect storm of trials delivered with Brexit and Covid, and compounded by rising costs and staffing shortages.

And, speaking afterwards, the chairman of the Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network, Madge Moore, spoke of innovations and opportunities to better promote the region’s heritage.

Great Yorkshire Show - Day Three - Pictured Grand Cattle Parade held in the main ring with over 150 cattle on display for members of public to view. Writer: James Hardisty

Businesses across the rural food and hospitality sector face a mixed picture of difficulties, she said, with skills shortages and families considering their spend.

“There is a big opportunity for the branding of Yorkshire,” she said. “Yorkshire is really well known, from the ‘Herriot’ types to cricket. A lot plays on that Yorkshire brand – there’s a lot more that could be done to promote that Brand Yorkshire.

“Yorkshire has such a wide range of farming businesses – from berries to potatoes,” she added. “As a county we stand very strong.”

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Madge Moore, Chair of the Yorkshire Food Farming and Rural Network

The seminar at the Harrogate showground, hosted by the lobbying body, heard from three Yorkshire businesses who have thrived despite the challenges thrown at the industry over the past two years.

Kathryn Bumby, founder of the Malton-based Yorkshire Pasta Company which launched its first product in the middle of lockdown, has seen unprecedented success and is now sourced in 450 farm shops from Edinburgh to Wales.

“We have a whole new customer base looking for plastic-free packaging,” said Ms Bumby.

Katie Taylor, of East Yorkshire’s Drewton’s Farm Shop, spoke of rising costs – with some products seeing increases four times already this year, and skills shortages. Despite the picture, she said, she remained buoyed by Yorkshire’s communities working together to overcome challenges, shopping locally and online.

And James and Sarah Martin, co-founders of Harrogate-based Glawning Ltd, shared their story of how their idea for ‘glamorous awnings’ for their own VW Camper Van grew to unprecedented levels online – now looking to launch in Europe this year and America next.

Challenging picture

Ms Madge said the picture for food and rural businesses remains challenging, as families review their spending power in the current climate. Many businesses are rapidly innovating, blogging and promoting over social media.

She said: “They are all trying to see how they can make the most of opportunity. It is challenging.”

Opportunities exist, in shortening supply chains, she said. Then in export, and pushes on free trade, while a devolution deal for North Yorkshire could bring funding for skills and training.

“It’s not going to be easy. There is help and support for businesses. People will buy a premier product if it’s good value.”

Food 'inflation'

Some rising costs in food inflation are overdue as “catch up” for fair pricing for quality produce, rural businesses said.

Chris Wildman, of Malhamdale’s Town End Farm Shop, said: “If you look at dairy and pig industries, there was some catching up to do.

“While it is difficult at the moment, some of that is levelling up which is needed for sustainable food production.

“We have customers who say ‘the lamb is too expensive’. I say ‘no, it was too cheap’.”

Now, he said, it is time to capitalise on the county’s fame as a food capital, with groups like Deliciously Yorkshire: “The Yorkshire food brand is intensely strong, but we don’t always tell that story.”

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