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Survey finds resilience among diverse good food enterprises

Results of a snapshot survey of 100 good food enterprises has shown that a high number of these small, diverse businesses were able to stay open for business and adapt to changes, despite experiencing fluctuation in demand and supply chain challenges.

Sustain’s Food Coops Network and London Food Link surveyed their networks of food enterprises at the start of lockdown to gather insight into how they had adapted to the lockdown and social distancing measures brought in as a result of Covid-19. The questions also elicited information on the challenges those running local good food enterprises were facing.

Over 100 people completed the survey between the 6 April and 8 May 2020 with representation from a wide range of enterprises: including cafes, producers, shops, markets and buying groups.

Key findings were:

  • Good food enterprises are open for business and have adapted to the changes
  • There have been supply chain challenges
  • Finances, staff safety and logistics have made things difficult
  • Uncertainty, particularly income fluctuation, have made it hard to plan for the future
  • Networks have helped with finding solutions

“Being able to be small and nimble and people-powered has worked to our advantage at this time. It’s vital that local and national governments support sustainable small businesses with affordable rents, enabling finance, and supportive regulation.” Tom Steele, Kentish Town Box Scheme

Following the survey, in which respondents suggested various ways we could help, Sustain have published information and guidance for local enterprises and worked to keep markets open during lockdown. They are now looking at how to influence local and national government to support these supply chains and enterprises as we come out of lockdown and look at rebuilding local economies.

“We think it is critical that small, diverse food enterprises are seen and heard as part of local economic recovery plans that are being developed following lockdown. These businesses have shown their economic worth time and time again, and now have demonstrated how resilient and adaptable they can be in times of emergency and recovery” commented Ben Reynolds, Deputy CEO of Sustain.

Actions highlighted in the report include working with councils to develop Good Food Retail plans and provide support and access to premises and opportunities for good food enterprises to thrive.

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