Supplies of local and regional bread cannot keep pace with demand in London due to the lack of an effective distribution network, according to a new report, which recommends setting up a regional hub to tackle the problem.
Outside caterers, gastropubs, work canteens and coffee shops ranked bread as the number one local product they most wanted to buy, but hurdles in the supply chain mean this demand is not being met, said the report from Bidwells Agribusiness, which was commissioned by the South East Food Group Partnership.
In total, 53% of London’s foodservice and retail buyers would like to buy more local bread and two in three London consumers currently buy or would like to buy more local food. But there is not enough supply in the capital because producers are scared off by distribution challenges, such as the Congestion Charge, parking and heavy traffic. Buyers and producers also find it hard to connect with each other to do business, said the report.
"Many of these are perceived barriers suppliers think that it is difficult to supply into the capital so look elsewhere, but there are solutions to distribution, which are available or could be introduced," said Bidwells’ head of food marketing Richard Walters.
A key recommendation of the report is to set up a regional distribution hub for local food, which would incorporate a virtual business-to-business e-marketplace to enable producers, suppliers, buyers and retailers to engage more directly. The report also recommends the development of 10 to 20 street markets as local food beacons across Greater London.
"Our research shows the sheer scale of the opportunity for producers and suppliers in the south east and, by implication, across the UK," said Walters. "Nearly all food buyers and retailers surveyed want greater links to producers, easier sourcing, less hassle, and a one-stop shop."