Local Food Britain is putting a spotlight on the Surrey food industry
- Credit: Local Food Britain
We find out more about Local Food Britain, an organisation dedicated to supporting the local food and drink sector.
Formed in 2011 by marketer, foodie and Surrey champion Tracy Carroll, Local Food Britain is a food and drink network that is working hard to promote the Surrey food industry to both locals and visitors.
Including all aspects of the industry, including independent tearooms to bustling farm shops, small local growers to speciality and fine dining, you can eat, drink and breathe all things local by visiting localfoodbritain.com and supporting one of the county’s biggest economies.
March 2020 saw the food industry suddenly transformed as the public clamoured for goods, and supermarket shelves were stripped bare of essentials such as rice and pasta. People queued around the block, with many major retailers extending opening hours or imposing time slots and to meet demand. Delivery slots became one of the most hotly debated subjects as worried shoppers monitored laptops and phones snaffling up sessions as soon as they were released.
But not everyone felt the benefit of panic buying and contingency planning. For the hospitality industry, it was a different story as pubs, cafes, and restaurants had to come to terms with two issues: firstly, dealing with the immediate impact of closing their doors to customers in the face of the growing pandemic; and secondly, how to adapt to prevent their hard-fought-for business from going under.
‘Producers who had largely supplied the hospitality industry had to find more direct routes to their customers; businesses that had always relied on footfall needed to quickly improve their online stores and delivery services; pubs and restaurants forced to close their doors conjured up grocery boxes and takeaway menus for the first time,’ says Tracy. ‘Everything was changing.’
One of the most positive things to emerge was people’s reliance on more local or high street shops, as they actively sought out bakers, greengrocer, and fishmongers within walking distance. People also embraced those businesses that thought outside the box, swapping beer sales for groceries sold at tables outside or even through windows, hastily adapted to Covid-safe serving hatches.
In order to harness that support, Local Food Britain launched its ‘Stay Loyal to Local’ campaign to ‘continue to build on the bonds created with local communities during lockdown’.
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Tracy adds: ‘It is a hugely exciting time, but there is a long way to go - hopefully, they will all be rewarded for their incredible efforts and hard work to keep delicious and high-quality food and drink on our tables.’
And Tracy, who is also the driving force behind the county’s tourism body VisitSurrey, believes the local food industry is one that deserves a great deal of recognition.
‘To put it simply, Surrey’s food industry helps to build a sense of place and a passion for our community,’ she explains. ‘Surrey’s farms, which have ebbed and flowed over the generations, appear to be back on the rise again and are complemented by fascinating smallholdings offering free-range, grass-fed produce and rare breed meat.
‘They are reinforcing our connection with where food really comes from, which had been in danger of being lost with convenience and fast food, as well as embracing sustainable farming systems that benefit our environment in the long run.’
Tracy is keen to point out that the importance of good local produce has not been lost on many of Surrey’s residents who ‘have all become increasingly avid champions of Surrey produce in recent years’.
And thanks to initiatives such as Local Food Britain, it looks like the Surrey food sector is set to go from strength to strength. 'We look forward to continuing to explore, discover and taste all that Surrey has to offer as the food and drink scene right here on our doorstep grows and grows.’
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