Flour with price and production standards set by a community of consumer ‘members’ has gone on sale in the first time in the UK.
The Consumer Brand, based on a revolutionary consumer model born in France, has launched 1.5 kg bags of ‘It’s up to you’ plain flour, based on consumer requests for guaranteed fair prices to farmers and protection for wildlife and biodiversity.
Under the brand, wheat farmers will receive a set price for three years and farm to the RSPB’s Fair to Nature certification, which audits and guarantees farming that protects wildlife and biodiversity.
Co-founder Pascal Hegglin said: “The Consumer Brand is a Community Interest Company (CIC) that puts fair pay for farmers at the top of its agenda but it doesn’t stop there. The community of consumers, which anyone can join, also sets the standards required for farming practices, manufacturing processes and the environmental impact for each product as well as the recommended retail price.”
“Once the consumers have identified the parameters for the new product, we set about finding producers and manufacturers who can meet their standards and ensure that we create the product they want at the price they have set.
Available direct from Matthews Cotswold Flour and via selected retailers, the new flour costs £1.31 with The Consumer Brand taking five per cent of the final selling price. This is used to set up the supply chain, organise the audits, run the consumer community, and guarantee all requirements are met, the company said.
Members of the general public can sign up to the company, and are then consulted on environmental, health and price requirements ahead of a product launch. They are also invited on regular organised visits to the farmers and producers where they can ask questions, and visits are also filmed to allow those who can’t attend to participate.
“In this case we chose Matthews Cotswold Flour, a forward thinking company with one of the longest milling histories in the UK, and have just launched the 1.5 kg bags of flour on their website,” said Hegglin.
“The British farmers providing the wheat are now on a deal assuring them a set price per tonne over three years and their agricultural practices have been given the official stamp of wildlife friendly approval from the RSPB and a new organisation called Fair To Nature.”
Bertie Matthews, managing director of Matthews Cotswold Flour, said: “We are thrilled to be part of this incredible new project. I think this is a game-changing idea and I was personally really excited to see what the consumers were going to decide when it came to the flour.
Hegglin said The Consumer Brand was born in France five years ago in response to the fact that more than 700 farmers were committing suicide each year due to a cut-price food industry.
“Many of those deaths were occurring because farmers were going bankrupt in a cut-price industry which squeezed producers of raw materials,” he said.
In France, the brand is known as ‘C’est qui le patron?’, which translates as ‘Who is the boss?’, and according to the company more than one in five shoppers regularly purchase at least one of its items, including milk, flour, eggs, wine, apple juice, honey and pasta. In the UK. The Consumer Brand in the UK aims to follow the flour launch with other staple products such as eggs, milk oats and bacon.
“Our consumers can be as engaged as they want. If they want to visit a farm they can. If they just want to buy the product in a store, they can,” said Hegglin.