Supporting Hampshire's local food producers is a priority for Hampshire County Council and one which it sees as a key factor in regenerating the rural economy.
The push for more industrial and cheaper food production over the last 40 to 50 years has led to the growth of unsustainable farming methods and to the disappearance of many small farmers and food producers. The Economic Development Office of Hampshire County Council, through projects which support the local food chain, aims to help existing food producers become profitable again and others to diversify or add value to their products.
If we want to protect the beautiful farmed landscape of Hampshire, it is vital that people ask for local produce from their local shops, restaurants and other food outlets. By buying local produce you not only enjoy the best, but make an essential contribution to the sustainability of Hampshire’s countryside, the rural economy, environment and our market towns.
Hampshire Fare is a community interest not-for-profit company which represents producer members in Hampshire who grow, rear, make and sell a diverse range of food, drink and craft from Hampshire. Members also include farm shops, delicatessens and specialist food shops, caterers, home economists, visitor attractions, hotels and B&Bs. The common aim throughout is to promote the best of Hampshire’s food, drink and craft. It helps local producers of food and drink to develop and grow their businesses with a variety of measures including marketing and PR support, training signposting, meet the buyer and trade events for supermarket buyers and other retail and hospitality businesses, and general support and advice services.
Established in 1991, Hampshire Fare is supported by Hampshire County Council, and works in partnership with Corporate Partners and Corporate Friends who have a strong corporate social responsibility to Hampshire’s countryside and a sustainable and enterprising rural economy.
The main aims of Hampshire Fare are to:
Hampshire Fare runs a series of marketing events and promotions around the county to promote awareness of local food and drink, including the annual award-winning Hampshire Food Festival with around 100 different events taking place throughout July. This is Hampshire's showcase event in celebration of local food and farming. Hampshire businesses and organisations are invited to take part and hold a Festival event, with the proviso that all events must include local food or drink in some way.
The Hampshire Food Festival attracted 295,000 visitors to events in 2012, and generated an estimated £5.97 million to the Hampshire economy. The 2012 figures show a 33.5% growth in visitor numbers from 2011 (221,015 visitors) and an increase in revenue of 56%. Estimated visitor spend per person increased from £19 in 2011 to £23 in 2012.
The highly successful programme of Hampshire Farmers’ Markets was set up by the Economic Development Office in 1999. With average takings now of £500 per stall-holder and average attendances of around 5,000 customers, the markets are now renowned as the largest and most successful in the UK. Winchester is the largest in the UK, with around 90-100 stall-holders and around 10,000 shoppers attending each market, held twice monthly. After three years running the markets, the Economic Development Office asked the stallholders to organise and manage the farmers' markets themselves and a new limited company, Hampshire Farmers Markets Ltd, was established and has been run by the farmers and growers since January 2002.
It is seen as a model for many other areas around the UK and was the first to receive official certification from the National Association of Farmers' Markets. Hampshire Fare works alongside Hampshire Farmers’ Markets with many of its members being regular stall-holders.
The County Council is addressing the issue of diminishing slaughter facilities and its impact on both livestock producers and the local food chain. It has helped livestock producers gain access to new abattoir and meat processiong facilities at Laverstoke, near Basingstoke.
Hampshire Fare works closely with Hampshire County Council’s school meals service, HC3S and distributor 3663 to enable supply of local produce into Hampshire’s public sector catering. This has resulted in a local supply contract for around one million free-range eggs, 500,000 buffalo burgers and 132,000 litres of Hampshire apple juice per year, worth, in 2010, approximately £1.5million per year to the Hampshire economy.