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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 21:33 GMT
Prince backs 'buy local' campaign
Prince Charles visits a sheep market in Cumbria
Charles has long been involved in the farming industry
The Prince of Wales has warned relying on the global food market could threaten Britain's agricultural security.

Prince Charles launched a campaign at St James's Palace on Monday to persuade supermarkets to buy local produce.

It was based on a new report which spells out the advantages of promoting home-grown and locally-produced food.

The initiative came from the food industry after it recognised that many customers disliked aspects of global food production and wanted to support local farmers and businesses.

To sacrifice long-term security for short-term convenience would be utter madness, it seems to me

Prince Charles

He said: "I happen to believe this country must retain its ability to grow its own food.

"All too many people think that we can survive by relying totally on the world market.

"But we must learn the lessons of history - now, it seems to me in these currently dangerous times, more than ever.

"To sacrifice long-term security for short-term convenience would be utter madness, it seems to me."

The prince said both shoppers and the economy would benefit from buying regional produce.

Save rural Britain

The project aims to show the food industry that sourcing locally makes sound business sense by reducing distribution costs.

In the report, Prince Charles said customers increasingly want to know how their food is produced and where it comes from.

The guide, Local Sourcing - Growing Rural Businesses, was produced by the Institute of Grocery Distribution, the food industry's trade body, after the Prince of Wales launched a drive to save rural Britain in July.

Through his Business in the Community charity, he asked business leaders to help him in his campaign, which was sparked by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

At the launch, the prince said: "I happen to believe that if the foot-and-mouth nightmare proved anything, it is that the British people have a strong bond with the countryside and that they not only want to visit it, but to put something back into it as well.

Cow carcasses
Foot-and-mouth carcasses in Cumbria

"And customers increasingly want to know the source of their food, how it is produced and where it comes from - in other words, the story behind their food."

Charles said local sourcing of food could make a "considerable difference" to the viability of farmers and speciality producers.

He praised Sainsbury's for deciding its new supermarket in Cockermouth, Cumbria, would source as much as possible from the county.

And he said French farmers are better organised and add value to their own produce.

It is in everyone's interest to explore what could and should be done to help revive the UK's rural areas

Sir Peter Davies
Sainsbury's chief executive

He added: "There must be some lessons here for our farmers and it is part of what today's launch is all about."

Sir Peter Davies, group chief executive of Sainsbury's and the chairman of Business in the Community, said: "This guide is an important and timely contribution to the debate about the future role of our rural economy.

"It is in everyone's interest to explore what could and should be done to help revive the UK's rural areas."

See also:

01 Jun 99 | UK
Prince sparks GM food row
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