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Britain’s farm shop market is booming, according to a major study on the sector.

The research project found farm shops generate £1.4bn in sales a year nationally and employ around 25,000 workers, the Farm Retail Association (FRA) revealed this week at its annual conference.

It also found 64% of farm shops are expecting year-on-year sales to increase in 2022.

The FRA worked with the recently created Food, Land & Agri-Business Management department at Harper Adams University on the research project, which looked at the impact farm shops have on local communities, suppliers and the wider economy.

It estimated there were 1,581 farm retailers in Britain, with a third opening in the past 10 years. The study also showed consumers were attracted to farm shops by the quality of their food, customer service and the farm setting.

Describing the project as the first substantial survey of its kind into farm retail, Harper Adams senior food retail & marketing lecturer Alastair Boot said: “It is clear farm shops offer a different experience to high street shopping through the quality of their produce and their standard of service and that this difference is increasingly appreciated by customers.”

The findings also highlighted the growth of farm shops following their role in supporting local communities during the pandemic. Almost nine out of 10 farm shops reported an increase in sales since 2019.

“We knew anecdotally that consumers are preferring to shop and support local more than ever before and this data confirms just that,” said FRA chairman Rupert Evans.

“The trust was built up through the pandemic as farm retailers could adapt quickly to introduce Covid-safe measures and people felt safer shopping in smaller environments as opposed to large supermarkets,” he added. “These changes to shopping habits will be here to stay.” 

The survey also showed a major challenge facing the sector had in attracting talent or skilled staff. This issue was cited as the biggest problem by 35% of respondents.



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