Farmers adjust business models to ride out pandemic

Written by
Mollie Leach

01 May 2020

01 May 2020 • by Mollie Leach

Food and farming businesses across the country are reworking their business models and innovating as they react to the new trading environment the coronavirus pandemic has brought.

Food delivery and digital subscription services have witnessed a surge in sales with consumers forced to stay at home, which has prompted farm enterprises to adapt their selling strategies.

It comes after the Covid-19 outbreak saw Chancellor Rishi Sunak announce an unprecedented £350bn funding package of loans and grants to help businesses and workers cope with the lockdown of large parts of the economy.

Farm shops in Scotland have seen record sales in online delivery over the last seven days.

Euan Grewar of Grewars Farm Shop outside Dundee said: "We have had three to four times our usual trade with vegetables and potatoes in particular demand.

"Our produce is all local and we have managed never to be short of stock."

Devon-based Cheddar producer Quicke, similarly adapted its business model by offering free delivery to NHS staff and all vulnerable groups affected by the virus for an initial 12-week period.

Fruit and vegetable distributor Richard Musgrave switched to home deliveries after his enterprise Strawberry Fields in Keighley, West Yorkshire, lost 40 per cent of its wholesale business due to the closure of hotels and restaurants.


Mr Musgrave described the move as a ‘learning curve’ and a natural reaction to the increase in demand for local produce, with panic buying resulting in rows of empty shelves in supermarkets.

‘Failures’ in the supply chain prompted Our Cow Molly, a Sheffield based farm shop and ice cream parlour to deliver about 4,000 litres of milk to Morrisons after major processor Arla struggled to keep up with demand.

Our Cow Molly’s Eddie Andrew said: “We are stepping up and coping with the demand but there are serious issues with the supply chain right now, we have seen empty shelves in Sheffield’s biggest branches of Co-op Morrisons over the past three days.”