The Chairman of New Covent Garden’s Tenant Association, Gary Marshall, made a heartfelt and emotional plea to Ministers in a recent radio interview, saying they should recognise and applaud the work that is being carried out by local market traders and shopkeepers during the UK lockdown.
Marshall called into The Morning Show, hosted by James O’Brien on LBC radio last week. He wanted to draw public awareness to the selfless work being carried out by local suppliers of fresh produce, including that of his own brother who, despite battling depression, has made daily deliveries to the ICU at St Georges Hospital in London.
“You cannot believe the generosity of these people whose businesses have almost been ruined by this despicable virus” exclaimed Marshall. “Suppliers have tirelessly delivered boxes to NHS staff and we have been serving local food banks to help ensure that everyone is fed.
“Our country is amazing!” he added with pride.
When asked about the current supply chain situation, “it’s incredibly difficult right now” Marshall explained and “we’re not getting the support we need from the government.”
“The other day I listened to government officials thanking the supermarkets. But who they forgot to thank were all the small shopkeepers. We are, at our heart, a nation of shopkeepers,” he added.
“All these local suppliers are ensuring that everyone is getting their daily fruit and veg and, because of them, people are actually starting to cook again.”
Marshall’s comments come at a crucial and, many would say, evolving time for the fresh produce industry. One where a new connection with local suppliers and the value they provide to their communities is being re-established.
Just recently the UKs Fresh Produce Consortium launched a new, innovative online platform, ‘On Your Doorstep’.
The platform allows consumers across Britain to tap into the local value streams highlighted by Marshall, by directly connecting local businesses with consumers and offering a great value, prompt home delivery service , which is a fantastic alternative to the supermarkets’ delivery-slot backlogs and means that customers can get fresh produce straight to their doorsteps within a few days, or sometimes even hours.
Nigel Jenney, the Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium said of the current supply chain situation “it’s simply remarkable how local independent wholesalers and retailers have responded to the immediate challenges including the loss of out of home customers.
"The rapid refocusing of their offer to provide convenient solutions for consumers is simply remarkable. Consumers have re-established their desire to support local suppliers, a trend that’s here to stay for the long term, prompting substantial growth in the sector.
“We’ve issued a considerable amount of advice and support to our members who know we are here to fight their corner in these challenging times.”
“Our ‘On Your Doorstep’ offer is testament to the support we offer all of our members, which is reinforced by the substantial number of visits from both suppliers and customers since its launch just over a week ago.”