Traditional farm shops are close to becoming extinct in Cheltenham. The dominance of supermarkets in the centre of the town has channeled customers away from local produce, in favour of cheaper and more accessible food.
Greatfield Farm shop is one of Cheltenham’s longest standing and has been able to attract customers with its friendly approach to shopping, however, even one of the towns mainstays is struggling to bring in business. Owner Keith Humphries who has always been passionate about keeping local produce alive, spoke exclusively to UOGlos about the issue.
“It’s hard at the moment. We are quite a way behind in sales from this time last year. There is just too much competition at the moment and we are probably better off than most other places across the Cheltenham.”
“We still have our regulars that come here and know what amazing food they get but the problem is people just don’t want to pay a little bit more for quality local produce.”
The build up to Christmas is a vital time of year for these shops but its the fresh produce that takes a hit as people are prepared to stock up early filling their fridge freezers to the brim rather than opting for local goods.
This has a compounding effect on local farmers who are losing an outlet to sell their produce handcuffing them to sell to the big chains.
Gloucestershire farmer Anthony Spencer says that taking away farm shops puts a strain on his industry, a strain that could lead them to breaking point.
He said: “Not having farm shops is a massive problem for us. It means we have no choice but to sell to those big chains and that costs us more for transport, packaging and not to mention we always have a middleman rather than people we can rely on to sell of produce in the right way.”
It’s places like Greatfield and farmers like Anthony that are struggling with the increased monopolisation of these massive chains. Without their financial clout and resources it could mean the end for local farm shops.