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16.03.06
Shoppers want to buy more Cornish food - new research

The demand for Cornish food outstrips supply with shoppers desperate for more products and more places to buy them, according to the results of new research announced this week. The research into how and why people shop for local Cornish food was undertaken by Taste of the West Cornwall. At an event on Wednesday, it was revealed that quality is the main reason people buy Cornish products, and that more permanent farm shops may well be the natural successor to weekly farmers' markets.

The event 'Optimising retail potential' at the award-winning Lobbs Farm Shop, Heligan, attracted producers and retailers from all over Cornwall, all keen to make more of the retail potential of local food and drink.

"We needed to find out more about why and how people shop for Cornish food," says Ruth Huxley, who undertook the research. "We knew a lot about food production and sales, but there was a real lack of data on shoppers themselves, why they bought Cornish and where they liked to shop for it. By asking these questions and analysing the results we'll now be able to help more Cornish businesses sell more local foods in ways and places that people like to buy them."

Fresh produce was the most regularly bought commodity, but a surprise finding was that many Cornish shoppers are very keen to buy new local products such as smoked foods and beer. "Quality is the key for shoppers," continues Ruth Huxley. "Because our Cornish produce is so good, people are keen to try and buy new, non-traditional products. They appreciate quality and value which is what our producers are delivering."

According to the new research, shoppers prefer to buy Cornish products such as cream, ice cream, milk, potatoes and cheese through supermarkets where they are widely available. For other local products the survey has revealed a massive opportunity for more quality farm shops to be established around Cornwall. "Our farmers' markets have sowed the seed for local Cornish produce," says Angie Coombs of Taste of the West Cornwall, "but our survey shows that people want more access to local produce more of the time. Farm shops, if done well, deliver a similar short food chain but are undercover and keep business hours. Along with independent retailers, this is the area that has the biggest potential for retail growth."

The research was undertaken last year, first at the Royal Cornwall Show to ascertain the shopping habits of Cornwall residents and those from neighbouring counties, then at the Royal Show at Stoneleigh to assess how Cornish products were seen and sourced by people from outside the area.

People were asked about what Cornish produce they buy, where they shop for it and why or if they prefer it to generic products. They were also asked what might help or motivate them to buy more Cornish products, and whether alternative shopping methods such as online or mail order, mobile shops or extended vegetable box schemes would appeal.

The 'Optimising retail potential' event included a presentation by Ruth Huxley on the research findings, plus guest speakers Michael Lough from 'Thought for Food', speaking on national opportunities for retailing locally produced products, and the Lobb brothers who won 'Best retail outlet in the South West' at the 2005 Taste of the West Awards for Lobbs Farm Shop.

Key findings – Cornish shoppers (Royal Cornwall Show):

All those surveyed bought some Cornish foods.
Fresh produce such as greengrocery and meat was the most frequently bought Cornish food.
Newer Cornish products are growing in popularity such as smoked foods and beer.
Quality and value are the main reasons for people to buy Cornish.
Where products are available in supermarkets this is where people prefer to buy them.
Shoppers wanted a wider range of Cornish products and more places to buy them.
The greatest retail potential for selling local Cornish food and drink lies with farm shops and independent retailers.

Key findings – out-of-county shoppers (Royal Show, Stoneleigh):

Clotted cream, genuine pasties and fresh fish were the most sought after Cornish food and drink out of county.
Shoppers believe Cornish food to be of high quality with intrinsic goodness.
Cornish brands such as Rodda's cream and Skinner's or St Austell beers are beginning to register out-of-county.
Distance between production and point of sale increases the danger of misinformation about Cornish food.

Conclusions of the research:

There is huge retail potential in and out of county – demand for Cornish food and drink is not being satisfied.
Cornish food and drink has a priceless reputation.
The development of more products needs to be encouraged.
More retail outlets are needed, or more existing outlets need to sell more Cornish products to meet demand.
Awareness needs to be raised out of county of the difference between genuine and non-genuine Cornish products.
There is scope for new sales methods to be developed.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from www.cornwalltasteofthewest.co.uk.

For further information please contact Veronica Newport on 01363 866927 or email: veronica@n-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Cornwall Taste of the West through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and land based industries project is advised to speak with Maria Ford, at Government Office South West - 01752 635015 - before commencing development as there are now only limited funds available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Editor's notes:

Taste of the West in Cornwall is a £5 million Objective One gateway project, funded by the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and private matched funding. It is part of the Taste of the West regional food group. Taste of the West's Cornwall project includes a trade development programme, a marketing grant scheme and a capital grants scheme, available to small and medium sized food businesses which produce, sell or process foods in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. For more information log on to www.cornwalltasteofthewest.co.uk.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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