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"Dear friends since God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another"
1 John 4:11






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Cirencester Eating Disorders Support Group


This notice has been circulated to all those I have contact details of either by email or by phone but because of the way the voluntary group is run everything is confidential and therefore sometimes I only have a name. As some of the sufferers and carers come from the Benefice I am including this info here too.

Sadly I cannot be around to offer support face to face until further notice. The current situation surrounding us at the moment will cause extra anxiety to those with eating distress. You can rest assure that the group will be up and running as soon as it is possible.

As well as contacting me direct as per details in parish magazines online support can be sought via BEAT or F.E.A.S.T.  You are not alone help is out there.

 Warmest regards Pat Ayres



Farming Matters

As I write this month’s piece, we’ve just heard from Dominic Raab, our stand-in Prime Minister, that the lockdown measures will be in place for at least a further three weeks. There is a balance to be struck between limiting the speed with which the virus spreads, allowing the NHS to cope with numbers, and limiting the damage done to the economy from reduced trade and spending.

Whilst spending with supermarkets may have increased, as children are off school and many adults consume more meals at home, other sectors of the food supply chain have been devastated. Huge swings in supply and demand for food has created difficulties in the supply of many perishable foodstuffs. In the four weeks to 22nd March, i.e. the run-up to lockdown, retail sales in food and drink increased by 19% to £1.4bn, as a result of stockpiling.

Diagram of cow showing cuts of meatDemand for beef rose by 35%, mostly mince as the main ingredient for the favourite spag bol. Demand for lamb only rose 12% as this is generally seen as a higher priced meat which is best cooked and consumed in restaurants. There was a 27% increase in demand for fresh potatoes just as the demand for chipping potatoes collapsed. Cheese and spreads rose by 25% and 30% respectively, that’s a lot of extra sandwiches.

Since the initial panic buying the supply chain has made some adjustments and the shortages are not so pronounced now. But there are still problems to overcome, given the extended lockdown period.

The established routes to market for beef, for example, sees the cheaper cuts going to mince and pies etc. for retail while the more expensive cuts go through the food service businesses to hotels and restaurants. With the latter closed, demand for those cuts is much less and the carcass is not ‘balanced’. Reduced demand for prime cuts is bringing the value of the carcass down and subsequently the value of the animal for the farmer. Tanneries are closed and the lack of hide sales is also bringing animal values down.

Milk production is another area suffering, largely as a result of the polarisation of processing. There is currently 20 million litres a week less demand for liquid milk from the food service sector which supplies coffee shops, restaurants etc. There has been a 9% increase in demand in retail but this does not make up all of the difference.

Glanbia Cheese, one of the largest manufacturers of mozzarella cheese in Europe, has dairies in Wales and Northern Ireland with production capacity for 45,000 tonnes/year and exports to more than 30 countries. One of its main customers, Azzurri Restaurant group which owns Zizzi and ASK, gets through 650 tonnes of mozzarella each year. Farmers supplying these dairies now have no market. There are other examples where dedicated supply contracts which were introduced to demonstrate traceability and provenance now impede flexibility in the supply chains.

Normally in times of over supply the surplus is sent to processors which dry milk into powder for longer term storage. But all this is happening at Assured food standard logothe time of the seasonal spring flush where typically an extra 2 million litres per day is produced from the fresh spring grass. So those ‘safety net’ outlets are at capacity.

Consequently some farmers are being asked to reduce production, some are being offered just 25% of their normal price and some are being asked to dump milk as it will not be collected. Today we hear that the Government are to relax some of the completion laws (introduced to protect the consumer) which have prevented competitors in the milk supply chain collaborating to overcome these difficulties.

A very regrettable state of affairs for these valuable food products and for all of the hard work which has gone into the production. The position can be eased marginally if every shopper ensured that the food they buy is British and displays the Red Tractor logo.

Stay safe

David Ball.




Photo used under licence from Fotolia 

Cartoon used by permission of Cartoon Church

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