To say I am no expert on marketing would be an understatement, but I know that when it comes to getting their offer right for customers few can beat the giant food retailers.

This is true across Europe, but the UK often leads the way, even over the United States as the home of marketing.   The pre-Christmas decision by one major retailer to reward customers by selling vegetables far below the cost of production clearly worked.  

People talked about this and no doubt it encouraged them to buy other Christmas ‘essentials’ with the money they felt they had saved.  This was a cost borne by the retailer – an investment to secure sales for other products, but the message it sends to consumers still seems wrong.

Campaigns like this hark back to the era of cheap food.  They encourage people not to respect food or the massive effort farmers put into delivering high quality, locally produced vegetables.  At one level farmers do not need to worry if their buyer decides to buy high and sell low for a few weeks, but there are wider issues in play.  

Many of the products bought will end up being dumped because they cost so little.  That undermines progress made when the single issue people talked about was food price inflation.  That saw people respect and value food and the work that goes into producing it.  

They were open to a debate on the importance of food security and why it is important we do not depend on long and uncertain supply chains to fill supermarket shelves.

When inflation bites these are vulnerable; when markets face problems they are more vulnerable and that is without factoring in tensions created by global political instability.

Before Christmas people were reminded that they could forget these issues and again enjoy a pile it high, sell it cheap philosophy.  This is a small part of a wider problem for all parts of the food chain.  

The EU has just opened for applications its £160m plus food promotion programme. This will be split 50/50 between home and export markets.  

The rules on eligibility highlight familiar terms around sustainability, but the real drive is to get food markets back to where they were before people began trading down in response to rising prices.  

These are easing now, but people are still reluctant to again buy high value products.  They have got used to value, realised that own label products are good, and seem happy to go on substituting red meat for poultry.  Inflation has dramatically changed food markets and the problem is that profits along the food chain, from farmers to retailers, flow best from premium products.  

This is an extension of the view of Henry Ford, who avoided any move in the 1950s to smaller cars because big profits flowed only from big cars.  

In food, profits for everyone along the food chain are more easily found from premium products. This is as big an issue in the UK as in the EU.  

Indeed it could be even bigger since the UK economy is not performing as well as the eurozone countries and that means people still feel poorer here than in Europe.  

That feeds a demand for cheaper food and mitigates against a shift back to where markets were before they were driven down, firstly by Covid and then from the fallout from the dislocation that began with the war in Ukraine and took off with hyper-inflation in food prices. There is no similar pool of money for food promotion coming from Westminster to match what is on offer in the EU.  

Even worse than the lack of funding however is the lack of political interest.  

The EU sees agriculture and food as a thriving sector of the eurozone economy; a record balance of trade gap between imports and exports means the sector is seen as a driver of economic growth.  

By contrast, the government at Westminster seems to see the industry as one of the past rather than the future.  

This is not based on any rational economic model but instead reflects a lack of imagination and interest from a series of poor ministers at DEFRA since Brexit.  

They have demonstrated no interest in farming or food and still buy into a wider view that trade deals to import cheap food are the best way to convince people Brexit is delivering for them.