Gary Marshall, owner of Bevington Salads and Chairman of the Covent Garden Tenants Association, spoke at yesterday’s Festival of Fresh, in Kent, and told British growers in the audience that the wholesale markets can offer them a more sustainable alternative than the British supermarkets.
“For those of you who haven’t been to New Covent Garden Market, you should,” Gary told the crowd at the Berry Gardens site near Maidstone. “Do it one day, then come for a second and a third – you’ll find it very difficult to leave.
“What you get in wholesale markets is 1) knowledge and 2) passion. If you’re a grower supplying your products and putting your investments on the line, talking to a category manager or an accountant and setting your price for six months must be very deflating. Yes, there is an element of risk in the wholesale markets – we can’t completely guarantee what return you’ll get from one day to the next, but you will get that expertise and passion and you’ll be working with people who are very, very good at what they do,” he added.
“You need to be good at what you do too, of course, and understand what a wholesale market needs. We don’t just want what you can’t sell elsewhere. At New Covent Garden Market, we cannot exist on second class produce; our success is based on selling premium produce at the right prices.”
Most people like to have something they can depend on and might not want to take that risk, he said, but the rewards are there if you are prepared to commit and you can still have a proper relationship with your wholesale partner, face to face. “The people who are getting the most out of the wholesale markets in this country are our foreign supply partners,” said Gary. “But working with the supermarkets is fast becoming unsustainable for British growers too – you will always be getting the minimum return available to you if you work with them. You’re missing out if you don’t work with wholesalers. If you work closely with us and deliver us great gear, you will make your money.”
Pictured: Gary, left, was being interviewed on stage by Mike Knowles, Managing Director of Fruitnet Europe