Farming businesses selling direct to consumers – What you need to know
At Acres Insurance, we are huge advocates of supporting British farmers and farming! Despite all the challenges that the coronavirus outbreak has caused with the food chain, one positive to have come from it is that consumers are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and many are turning to buying direct from farms. We are convinced that, once consumers taste the difference in their local, fresh British produce, they’ll never go back to the imported offerings found in many supermarkets.
To all those farming businesses who have quickly adapted to sell direct to consumers or who are thinking of doing so, we salute you! We understand that many faming businesses had to pivot their businesses almost overnight when the lockdown hit. Therefore, if you haven’t already, now is the time to check that you have the correct cover and are abiding to the relevant regulations.
Farm Insurance when selling direct to consumers
If you have started to sell direct to customers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, make sure you get in touch with your Acres insurance broker to ensure that you have relevant and sufficient product liability cover.
Food Hygiene for farms selling direct to consumers
EU Food Hygiene Regulations apply to all stages of the food chain. There are two main pieces of regulation to be aware of:
- Regulation (EC) 852/2004 sets out general requirements for all food businesses (does not apply to “the direct supply, by the producer, of small quantities of primary products to the final consumer or to local retail establishments supplying the final consumer”).
- Regulation (EC) 853/2004 sets out requirements for all products from an animal origin (does not apply to “direct supply, by the producer, of small quantities of meat from poultry and lagomorphs slaughtered on the farm”).
General information from the Food Standards Agency can be found here.
Selling eggs direct from the farm
Eggs sold from a farm, door-to-door or from a market don’t need to be weight graded or stamped, but must be given a best-before date, a statement to inform consumers to keep the eggs refrigerated and, in some circumstances, the producers name and address. This does not apply to eggs sold by retail (more information on that can be found here).
Full information can be found here.
Selling raw milk direct from the farm
Information can be found here.
Selling meat direct from the farm
The AHDB has put together all the information for anyone looking to set up a meat box scheme here.
The FSA meat industry guidance can be found here.
Selling fruit and vegetables direct from the farm
Government guidance on required standards for those marketing fruit and vegetables can be found here.
More information on food labelling for fruit and vegetables can be found here.
Food labelling when selling direct from the farm
Information on the labelling of pre-packed food can be found here.
Non-prepacked food (which are more likely to apply to farming businesses selling direct) requirements are much less detailed than pre-packed foods. Information for these can be found here.
Ensuring that your delivery service adheres to social distancing guidelines
Dorset Council have compiled some useful information about how to make your deliveries safely, protecting your customers and employees by adhering to the government’s social distancing guidance. This is relevant across England and can be found here.
Vehicles used for home delivery
For many people (both those self-isolating at home and for businesses whose normal outlets have disappeared), home deliveries have been a lifeline. However, if delivery services are completely new to your farming business, there are some things to be aware of.
- Car insurance – If staff are using their own vehicles to make deliveries, when previously they only used their car to commute to and from work, they may need business cover on their insurance.
- Vehicle suitability- If employees are using their own vehicle for deliveries, you have a legal obligation to check that their vehicle is taxed, has an MOT, is serviced in accordance with manufacturers recommendations, and is suitable for the job.
- Driver suitability- You also have an obligation to check whether your driver has a driving license, doesn’t have any medical condition that might make their driving unsafe (like DVLA notifiable medical conditions) and are not too fatigued to drive.
- Risk assessments and policies- Any business which employs 5 or more employees must have a documented H&S regime. In which case, it should be amended to cover your business’ changed driving activity. You should also have a Driver Safety Policy and a Mobile Phone Policy, which should be read and signed by all employees who will be driving to make deliveries.
Food delivery services
- The FSA has provided up-to-date and thorough guidelines for food businesses which deliver meals here.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the relevant regulations. For further support and information please visit the Farm Retail Association website where they have a ‘Coronavirus Hub’ with lots of relevant information. They are also running a series of online learning sessions on subjects ranging from using social media to market your produce to creating an e-commerce website.