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Buy local when lockdown lifts

BUY local – that's the message from an organisation championing food and drink produced here in the south west. The food and drink brand Savour the Flavours is calling on people to continue to support local businesses as lockdown eases. The call comes after Savour the Flavours launched its first industry consultation. Following a relaunch of the brand on Saturday, 23 businesses met online to discuss emerging issues and challenges being faced by the industry. Liz Ramsay of Savour the Flavours said: “Our region's local businesses swung into action to meet the needs of our communities when lockdown hit. It was fantastic to see so many businesses going the extra mile to make sure that vulnerable people, particularly in rural areas, had deliveries of the products they needed. It must be remembered, when the big supermarkets closed their online doors to many people in this region – our local businesses stepped up and did an absolutely amazing job. “My big concern now is how exposed these businesses are. Businesses might look busy, but I can absolutely guarantee people that no one is ‘benefitting' from this crisis. Many of these businesses have changed their trading models completely, which has huge financial implications. Several have needed to source new equipment or staff to manage demand, and all will have experienced cashflow challenges. “I know for a fact that several local businesses have put people ahead of profit by running at a loss to meet the home delivery needs of people in rural areas. Because that's what we do in Dumfries & Galloway – we look out for each other. “So we're calling on the people of Dumfries and Galloway to now look out for our local businesses by, wherever possible, buying local and supporting local.” Ronnie Graham of Barony Country Foods in Lochmaben was one of the business owners who took part, and he said: “This first meeting was a breath of fresh air after all the stress that small business owners like myself have been under. It was great to speak to other people who are going through the same, or worse, things than our company is, and there were a lot of ideas getting shared and that was really helpful. “Emotionally what hit me the hardest was seeing our friends and customers in the industry look crushed. I find it really upsetting to be honest. We are very, very lucky compared to most because we have been able to change our business and keep going. My heart goes out to every person running a hospitality business right now. “When this crisis hit it was difficult to know where to turn. As a small business you put so much of yourself into what you do, and when you think you're going to lose absolutely everything it's a terrible time. It's actually difficult to explain just how hard that is. “One thing I would say to local people is, please don't forget about us when life starts to return to normal. A comment I've heard a lot recently is ‘we maybe can't travel, but by god we can eat well'. So many people didn't realise the quality of local food that's available to them in this region. Food production is a real strength of our local economy, and we need local people to continue to support it.” Roan's Dairy is another business who has continued trading throughout the lockdown period. After the meeting, Tracey Roan commented: “Being able to bring so many producers and local businesses together virtually was great - I think it was just what we were all needing. You can get so much from just listening to others - this new type of networking is priceless. It was great to hear how we have all adapted to the challenging times we are in and just how important it is to share experiences and information, and I've come away from the meeting with some new ideas. “Local businesses pride themselves on what they do, and our local food and drink businesses have a passion to make Dumfries and Galloway proud of what it produces. Tonight just emphasised the need for this type of networking and Savour the Flavours is just the ticket. This is our opportunity to really shout about what we do here, many of us just don't have the time to blow our own trumpet. But we are all in this together, so the more we can come together and do this as an industry, the better.” The insights and business feedback shared during the meeting will now be consolidated and made available to industry partners and public agencies to help inform recovery planning. The next industry meeting will take place on Tuesday 2nd June at 7pm. Businesses can register to take part at www.savourtheflavours.co.uk .

<< back Published: 28 May 2020, 09:27

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