'Carnage in the countryside' as lockdown affects West Country's food and drink producers

Credit: Michael Dart

The owner of an award-winning farm shop near Exeter has warned of "carnage in the countryside among food and drink producers".

Michael Dart says businesses like his have been affected by a change in shopping habits.

His comments come as stallholders at a weekly farmers market that's operated throughout lockdown are calling for more to open up.

This weekly farmers market in Exeter has operated throughout lock down. Credit: ITV West Country

Mr Dart says people are shifting towards a single weekly supermarket shop where they can buy everything in one trip.

Many firms, including Darts Farm, have set up online or delivery businesses but are struggling to make up for the shortfall in trade.

He is equally worried about the region's food and drink producers - many of whom have also been hit hard by the cancellation of food events.

These range from food festivals to companies like Otter Brewery which also supplied Sandy Park on match days for the Exeter Chiefs.

Mary Quicke is urging people to order their favourite local produce. Credit: Mary Quicke

Mary Quicke from Quicke's Farm Cheese is one of many firms that have lost contracts with supermarkets that have closed their deli counters during the pandemic.

She says online trade has taken off but is urging people to order their favourite local produce and send treats to friends.

She says everyone needs to "think creatively" and hold virtual dinner parties online with their favourite treats.