It has often been said that consumer is king or queen, but does this still hold true in 2023? The multiple crises of the climate and nature emergency, global instability and inequality have turned many old adages on their heads. People today are thinking more about the story behind the food they buy, and are increasingly engaged in ideas of fairness, ethics and decency. However, the opportunities for engaging in and shaping the food system as a ‘consumer’ are incredibly limited, particularly under an inequality and cost-of-living crisis that has left many people with little spending power. People want and need more. They want to participate in the food system as a whole, not just be passive consumers at the end of a supply chain. What does this mean for food businesses? What new and exciting opportunities can this bring?
In this Business Forum workshop held in February 2023, we heard from three businesses who’ve been at the forefront of the food citizen shift over the past few years. Speakers were Helen Quaye, Senior Policy Development and Campaigns Manager at Co-op, Guy Singh-Watson, farmer and founder of Riverford, and Louise Ziane, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Toast Ale.