UK CONSUMERS are urged to maintain the ‘buy local’ philosophy as restrictions ease and hospitality springs back into life.

The National Sheep Association has highlighted the new appreciation for the role of local farm shops and butchers which rose during the pandemic. It is estimated nearly half of British shoppers avoided large supermarkets at the height of the pandemic, favouring farm shops and other local businesses.

With hospitality closures meaning more people were dining in, local butchers and farm shops were there to provide fresh locally produced meat and vegetables as the nation embraced cooking at home.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “The nations farmers, growers and dairies work hard every day to feed our nation and provide vital produce for export. They continually strive to improve animal health and welfare along with environmental standards and continuously deliver against those standards to a much higher level compared to many other countries.

“It’s now time to return the favour by continuing to shop locally, using butchers and farm shops, but also asking supermarkets to identify where their produce has been sourced. Supporting locally produced food further reduces the need for imported foods, adding to further benefits for climate change for the whole nation. Help spread the word by raising awareness and encouraging others to do the same.”

With the UK looking to strike trade deals with major agricultural export nations, NSA urged the hospitality sector in particular to source local produce: “A number of restaurants, pubs and hotels are very good at informing the customer on the origin of the produce on their menus but now is the time to encourage, actually even insist that local producers are acknowledged on all menus, in all types of establishments including take-ways – it is not too much to do as a thank you to the nation's farmers.”