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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 13:43 GMT
Devon farmers take on supermarkets
farmers market
Farmers say consumers will have a wider choice
Farmers in Devon have launched what they claim is the UK's first farmers' supermarket.

The Exeter market aims to offer local fresh produce, with free parking, cover from the weather, a cafe and longer opening hours.

Organisers Devon Food Links say supermarkets nail down farmers on prices and tie them to contracts on quality which can be impossible to meet.

The farmers' supermarket, in which farmers sell direct to the public, is aimed at giving farmers a better deal and offering consumers a wider choice.

tesco protest
Farmers have blockaded supermarkets
The market will be held for a trial period on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Exeter Livestock Centre from 0900 until 1600.

Jonathan Smythe of Devon Food Links said: "There are 22 farmers markets in Devon and this is the next stage."

He said farmers' markets had the edge over supermarkets on the range of foods.

"We have a great range of cheeses and certain products that would not find in a supermarket.

"We won't beat them in the white goods sector, but we certainly think we can build up a very good range of locally produced food - there's a massive range in Devon."

'Weak' code

Farmers accept that some supermarkets are attempting to put more locally-produced food on their shelves.

For instance Somerfield last week agreed to stock more products from the South West's farmers and food companies.

But they are frustrated by the lack of progress at giving them a better deal from the supermarkets.

Last year the government published a code of practice for supermarkets, which set out how business should be conducted between supermarkets and their suppliers.

Tesco targeted

But farmers and consumer groups said it was too weak and ambiguous.

The dispute has led to blockades of supermarket depots.

In September, militant group Farmers For Action held pickets at two distribution centres in south Wales.

Teams of dairy farmers picketed Tesco distribution depots in March 2000, saying it was destroying their livelihoods by paying too little for milk.


Click here to go to Devon
See also:

21 Oct 02 | England
01 Nov 01 | Business
10 Apr 01 | Business
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