Free online trading offer for farmers

Free subscriptions are being offered to help York and North Yorkshire farmers sell their produce direct to shoppers online and to also connect them to retailers.

The 12 month subscriptions, worth £240 each, allow access to community led shopping platform, ShopAppy.com. The offer is led by Grow Yorkshire – a collaboration of farming, food businesses and research organisations coordinated by the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

David Kerfoot MBE DL, chair of Grow Yorkshire’s steering group, said: “Coronavirus has shifted the demand for food – while some retailers have reported busy levels of trade usually reserved for Christmas, the hospitality industry has had to close and demand from wholesalers has also dipped. That has a knock-on effect for Yorkshire farmers who have great produce to sell but potentially fewer opportunities to do so. This offer presents farmers with an opportunity to diversify supply chains locally to food retailers and build new income streams by connecting directly to consumers.”

ShopAppy.com features a directory of towns. Farmers eligible for the offer, from the York & North Yorkshire areas, would showcase their produce on the webpage of the town closest to them.

Mr Kerfoot, also the chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “This offer capitalises on some of the innovations already shown by farmers selling direct to consumers at the farm gate. Long-term, it also opens up opportunities for growth by linking farms to retailers.”

Funding for the free subscriptions has been provided by the York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub, which is also connected to the York & North Yorkshire LEP. Additional support for those taking up the offer is available from the York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub on areas such as marketing and adapting business models.

Dorothy Fairburn, Country Land and Business Association (CLA) North Director, said: “This is a great initiative and an excellent way for farmers to ‘test the water’ with direct sales to customers.  It also enables more established set-ups to reach a larger audience.”

Bob Doherty, Professor of Marketing and Chair in Agrifood at the University of York, said: “This is a great example of one of the innovations that has sprung up in the pandemic to take local produce direct from farmers and growers to consumers. This is a great example of using technology to build food system resilience at the local level”.

ShopAppy.com is a social enterprise and a support local campaign founded in 2016.

Jackie Mulligan, Founder of ShopAppy.com, said: “We are delighted to be working with Grow Yorkshire and to be supporting local producers and farmers so we can support local supply chains. With our recently announced partnership with VISA helping us provide support to more small businesses across the UK, we are certain that this will provide a real and tangible benefit to local businesses, local producers and the wider community.”

Farmers interested in taking up the free offer can contact ShopAppy to register interest by emailing info@shopappy.com or visit the site at: www.shopappy.com

Other businesses can also potentially qualify for free subscriptions to ShopAppy.com as a result of Growth Hub funding. Further details are available on the Growth Hub website.