What Farmdrop tells us about sustainable retail
Tuesday, 21st December 2021 by Chen
turkeys on a farm

You may have seen the sad news that Farmdrop closed this week, leaving farmers without payment, staff without jobs, and customers without deliveries – as well as undelivered food rotting in warehouses.

Some suppliers reported that Farmdrop hadn’t paid them since August; others that the retailer owed them more than £40,000. Amounts like this can mean the difference between survival and failure for small-scale suppliers.

It seems the big challenge for Farmdrop was trying to be an ethical retailer in a profit-hungry world. While its stated purposes were somewhat similar to ours, Farmdrop’s model depended on millions of pounds’ worth of venture capital and the high returns that that model of funding demands.

As Natasha, who runs our Better Food Traders network, said in Wicked Leeks magazine this week: “We have serious doubts that this approach can deliver the long-term, patient and committed backing that truly sustainable food production and supply requires.

“Until farming and food supply are valued as highly as they should be, with fair rewards to those producers and businesses whose work prioritises caring for earth’s life-support systems, it seems unlikely that there will be enough money to also provide returns to investors.”

Here at GC we have a not-for-profit, farmer-focused model: we keep costs as low as we can and we promise our farmers fair prices and prompt payment: our Better Food Shed pays suppliers within one or two weeks of receiving their invoices.

And we are able to do this thanks to your regular orders, your upfront payments and your willingness to eat whatever the farmers have harvested that week.

Now more than ever, we’re grateful for the close and collaborative community of farmers and veg scheme members that we are all part of, and thankful that our model has so far proved to be as fair, sustainable and resilient as we designed it to be.

Check out the Better Food Traders to find local food grown and traded sustainably.

Various people have published lists of suppliers affected by Farmdrop’s closure. If you’d like to support them, check out Farms to Feed Us on Instagram.