Updated: Monday, 24th September 2018 @ 5:48am

Manchester Veg People pledge to overhaul UK's food supply chain, cutting out 'middle men'

Manchester Veg People pledge to overhaul UK's food supply chain, cutting out 'middle men'

By Danielle Birtles

Manchester organic growers and buyers known as the ‘Veg People’ are attempting to overhaul the food supply chain in the UK.

Manchester Veg People (MVP) is a group of buyers and growers who are working cooperatively as they are worried about the state of the current food industry.

They are growing increasingly concerned with how long the food supply chain is.

Katie Brandon, Manchester Veg People coordinator, said: “It is difficult for people growing produce to make much money out of it.”

They hope to decrease the usual risk to the growers by forging a closer relationship between grower and buyer with ‘no middle man’ so that food production can become a viable way to make a living.

But more money is needed so they can purchase a van and cold store in order to carry their growers produce and hopefully expand distribution.

The organic food cooperative has been established for 18 months and due to expansion is now campaigning for this money so that supply can meet demand.

They have been working on a crowdfunding campaign for six weeks and yesterday afternoon reached the target of £16,000.

MVP told MM how ‘extremely happy’ they are with this achievement – but more donations are always needed if they are to reach their goal.

They have managed to secure a 40% matching fund with the EU, meaning that for every £1 that is donated they will give 40p.

Bean and Brush, Green Plate, The Rose Garden and University of Manchester both residential and campus food are buying from growers involved in the project.

Ms Brandon said: “With the university being one of the largest food buyers in the city, it was great to have them on board and buying from us. This has helped us to get more growers to provide more organic produce to the city of Manchester.”

The university’s Executive Head Chef Martin Smith said: “You are supporting people who have put themselves out there and work hard for a living and it's about supporting that for me.”

MVP are hoping that they can encourage expansion of the market in buying and growing these organic produce in Manchester as the North West has got one of the lowest proportions of growers in the UK.

All of the growers for MVP are Manchester based and they do not source food from further than 50 miles from the city centre.

All food is also picked to order the day before delivery so it is all fresh and organic produce.

MVP are always looking to expand the number of buyers, specifically in public sector organisations such as schools, hospitals and are also speaking to councils.

The organisation is hoping to set fair prices based on the cost of production.

MVP is also involved in a programme called FarmStart set up by the Kindling Trust.

FarmStart is an incubator project in which current or new farmers can trial farming business ideas in an attempt to increase the number of growers in Manchester.

MVP are enthusiastic about the expansion of their co-op business and said that while they will not expand outside of Greater Manchester, they hope to encourage others to establish their own Veg people initiative in other areas.

If you are interested in setting up your own Veg people or would like more information visit http://vegpeople.org.uk/

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.