Farm Business September 2009

As the big corporates get bigger, spare a thought for the brand start-up.

When I decided to launch The Black Farmer brand, I was quickly made aware that the only way to ever get into the major retailers was by partnering with a processor who already had established supplier relationships and who could handle the distribution.  This was all fine and dandy, but those established relationships generally meant that the processors I was targeting supplied own label products.  This brought about its own considerations and some difficult discussions as I tried to convince these processors that my new brand would achieve all I said it would.  There were many doubters!  As a consequence I started with a small company who did not have an own label relationship, but before long I was looking for a much larger partner.  Most weren’t interested, but I got lucky.  Cranswick was prepared to share my vision for The Black Farmer and help me to develop my brand’s potential.

Own label domination of many of our processors does present its own problems for a brand owner.  Own label is their lifeblood and producing for an independent brand comes low on their list of priorities.  I recently had discussions with a potential processor interested in doing business together, but before progressing they would need to speak to their retail partner as they could not afford to upset them.

The amount of power that retailers have over the processors is not, in the long run, good for the food industry and ultimately I believe it will kill innovation.  The large processors are not best placed to bring innovation to the market because they are always busy trying to find better ways of improving their bottom line.  Innovation requires a boldness, passion and bloody-mindedness to ultimately become viable.  So I would like the processors to be encouraged by the supermarkets to form more partnerships with smaller producers so they can benefit from their size and we can have an industry that has room for all kinds of food producers.

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~ by theblackfarmer on January 20, 2010.

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