By Judith O’Leary, founder and managing director of agriculture PR and digital comms company, Symbolize
THE COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly each enterprise, of each dimension, throughout each business. And the agriculture business isn’t any totally different. The truth is, in line with analysis from the Syngeta Group, virtually half of enormous EU farmers (46%) say their farming companies have been impacted by the pandemic, with a 3rd (32%) questioning the long-term viability of farming as a enterprise resulting from declines in income, disrupted provide chains and elevated prices.
At Symbolize, we’re fortunate to work with some unbelievable purchasers throughout Scotland’s farming, meals and rural sectors and so have seen first-hand how the broader agriculture business has been impacted. Maybe the saddest second of the 12 months got here with the cancellation of the 2020 Royal Highland Present. As a present which celebrates the very best of Scotland’s meals, farming and rural life and one which has been going for over 200 years and has survived plagues, floods and animal illness, its cancellation actually highlighted the devastating results of the pandemic. And once you add within the uncertainty round Brexit, we are able to safely say 2020 has been an extremely robust 12 months for our farming and agriculture business.
The significance of variety
Nonetheless, as we glance towards a brighter 2021 with the prospect of a vaccine, we should additionally replicate on examples of companies that haven’t solely survived Covid-19, however have thrived this 12 months.
Simply have a look at Craigies Farm Store close to Edinburgh which runs a thriving café, deli and pick-your-own occasions enterprise. As Covid-19 took maintain, it shortly turned obvious that it was not enterprise as common and Craigies needed to adapt shortly with a view to survive. The enterprise pivoted to a web based enterprise mannequin, reworking to a full click on and gather and grocery supply service, in addition to a take-away service. This digital transformation not solely enabled the store and deli to proceed to function, it additionally helped Craigies handle its occasions enterprise inside strict social distancing guidelines, with clients reserving slots for choosing their very own fruit, pumpkins and Santa breakfasts all year long.
Correspondingly, Rosebery Venues needed to overview its occasions enterprise and perceive the way it may proceed to market its occasion venues throughout lockdown amidst mass cancellations. A transfer to digital additionally performed an vital function in securing its future because the enterprise shortly commissioned video footage which might be used to conduct digital excursions. It additionally tailored its marriage ceremony and occasions packages to cater for smaller, extra intimate weddings thereby attracting those that have been unable to be accommodated by their unique venue.
And regardless of the massive disappointment surrounding the cancellation of the Royal Highland Present, its organisers, the Royal Highland and Agriculture Society of Scotland, rallied and by working in collaboration with its companions was in a position to have a good time the present on-line, bringing 1000’s of us collectively to champion the business and give attention to what the long run holds.
Trying to the long run
So, what are the alternatives for the sector as we emerge from what has been a really darkish time? The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly bolstered the connection between producer and shopper with an actual give attention to the significance of shopping for native and supporting native companies. Now greater than ever, the provenance of our meals has turn into a family situation and this can be a actual alternative for farmers to make their mark in a post-pandemic world.
Because the above examples will present, these with the power to reap the benefits of digital channels have been in a position to act shortly and deal with the extraordinary circumstances of 2020. Farmers have all the time demonstrated innovation, and there has by no means been a greater time to reap the benefits of know-how to drive change.
By specializing in the alternatives that this new-found reconnection between shopper and producer presents for the business, in addition to contemplating how digital transformation could make that occur effectively and successfully, Scotland’s agriculture business can, and can, get well.
Let’s make this chance rely for us, our companies and our communities.