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New study shows value of local food to Penrith

11 July 2013

A new report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) reveals the scale of the local food network in and around Penrith and the benefits it brings for livelihoods, the town and the countryside nearby.

CPRE’s report, ‘From field to fork: Penrith’ [1], shows that:

  •          Local food supports around 700 jobs directly and indirectly at outlets and suppliers.
  •          A wide variety of local foods is available through town centre outlets, regional supermarkets and local food box schemes.
  •          Local food sales make up half or more of turnover at two thirds of local independent outlets and trade of several million pounds (£4.5m); indirectly it supports trade of nearly £17 million (£16.8 m) at 100 or more producers from within 30 miles
  •          Local food outlets in and around Penrith serve over up to 26,000 customers weekly.

Download the report here:

Graeme Willis, Local Food Campaigner for CPRE, says: 'This report shows that in Penrith, as in other towns we’ve studied [1], local food is about much more than reducing food miles.'

'Penrith has its fair share of supermarkets, new and long-established, but the local food web increases choice for Penrith’s shoppers. It gives them access to the freshest, highest quality produce and the choice to support their local businesses and to keep money in the local economy. As high street chains collapse across the country, it’s more important than ever that we particularly value and support the local food businesses that help keep towns like Penrith attractive to shoppers and sustain the character of the town and its glorious countryside.'   

The report’s findings come mainly from the work of local residents who interviewed and surveyed shoppers, outlets and producers in 2009 with further research in 2011-12. The findings reveal the challenges local food producers and retailers face, but the opportunities there are to promote and build the local food network.

Challenges which need to be addressed to support local food in Penrith:

  •          Many businesses producing and selling local food are small or micro-businesses and can lack time and funds for marketing.
  •          Many local food outlets depend on a vibrant and attractive town centre and the impact of two new large supermarkets on the centre and its independent outlets will need to be monitored
  •          Despite an abundance of food grown or reared in Cumbria, one in two shoppers said limited availability and choice of local food prevented them buying more


There are opportunities for local authorities, local businesses and the community to work together to develop and strengthen the local food web:

  •          Local authority policies should support local food to strengthen retail diversity, tourism and the rural economy
  •          Local food businesses should work together to promote Penrith and its local food better and increase access and cut costs through shared distribution and delivery schemes
  •          Local residents should seek out outlets stocking local food and support them and encourage others to stock local.

Further recommendations to meet these challenges can be found on page 4 of the report.

Rory Stewart MP said: 'Local food businesses make an incredible contribution to our local economy: the food network, involving farmers, producers, processors, suppliers and retailers, is of enormous value, and we need to do all we can to support and indeed improve on what we have. We need to support local businesses in the food industry by improving awareness of Eden itself; by pressing national supermarkets locally to stock more Eden-produced goods, and market them as such; and to do all we can to help with cashflow issues, helping smaller businesses access the funding that will help them to invest in marketing and PR. I very much welcome the report's findings, and to looking closely at what we can do next to address these issues.'


Graeme Willis concluded:

'This report brings together the views of local food retailers and suppliers and Penrith shoppers to identify key challenges for the local food web but also real opportunities for the local authority, businesses and the community to act to make a difference. We hope it will inspire action to grow the local food economy and build even stronger links between Penrith and its rich rural hinterland.'


Other local contacts:

VistaVeg is a small grower's co-operative based in the village of Crosby Ravensworth near Shap in Cumbria. We grow high-quality responsibly grown vegetables on 3 separate sites totalling 6 acres for people who care about where & how their food is produced. We do this through a box scheme for families & individuals, and through wholesale supply to businesses and community groups.We produce and deliver local, responsibly-grown vegetables in a box to within a 12 mile radius of our farms including to the towns of Penrith, Appleby, Brough & Kirkby Stephen.

For further information on VistaVeg see :


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