The French Food Revolution

David Poussier is aiming to radically transform the relationship between consumers and food producers in the UK, which he says has been dominated by the power of the big supermarkets for too long.

“It’s time to empower consumers and allow them to have a say in what they’re putting in their shopping baskets by reconnecting consumers with farmers and involving them in every step of the production process,” says Poussier, who is based in the Cotswolds.

“We can effectively change what we buy in supermarkets, pay farmers a fair price for their produce, and respect the environment.”

Sounds like some ethical pipe dream? Well actually no, as this is exactly what’s happening over in France.

Since its launch in 2016, the French food brand ‘C’est qui le Patron’ has stormed onto the shelves of the country’s biggest supermarkets and is now the biggest-selling new food brand in French commercial history.

With over 40 lines, from milk and honey to chicken and pasta, the C’est qui le Patron organic butter is the most popular butter brand in France, as is its own brand of free-range eggs.

How it works

‘C’est qui le Patron’, which translates to ‘Who’s the Boss?’ in English, began in response to the crisis in the French dairy industry which saw record low prices being forced onto the sector by the big supermarkets.

The brand works, in effect, like fair trade in that it pays all farmers and producers a premium for their produce through a slightly higher retail price. All producers are suffering from the same supermarket-driven squeeze on prices, not just dairy farmers.

But the really innovative thing is that it lets shoppers have a say in every aspect of the product that’s to be sold, via an online questionnaire. Helped with an online briefing about all aspects of a product’s production process, consumers decide on its specifications.

This covers everything from whether a product should be organic and take account of animal welfare to the packaging to be used and the price that the producer should get. Finally, consumers are asked whether they want to pay a little more to help improve biodiversity on the farmer’s land.

C’est qui le Patron in the UK

Now, David Poussier is aiming to replicate the success of ‘C’est qui le Patron’ by heading up its UK operation, with a target date of hitting the supermarket shelves next spring under the trading name of The Consumer Brand, which is being run as a not-for-profit social enterprise.

Poussier is confident that the venture will achieve the same level of success here as its French parent company.

“More than two thousand people have already filled in our online questionnaire for flour, our first product to be sold next year and, given that we don’t do any advertising, I think that’s amazing,” says Poussier.

Food writer and author of ‘Sitopia’ and ‘Hungry City’, Carolyn Steel, is equally enthusiastic:

“The Consumer Brand is wonderful in that it educates people and makes them understand the complexities of food, and it engages with them making them part of the decision-making process driving ethical food production.”

And it’s a thumbs up too from Martin Lines, Chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network which has almost 2,000 farmer members across the country.

“By connecting consumers with the power and responsibility they have as purchasers, this initiative will help redress the power imbalance between producers and supermarkets,” believes Lines.

“Many of our members aren’t organic, but if we had market recognition for what we produce which gives us a small premium, then it would actually change how we farm.”

If you’d like more information on The Consumer Brand and to fill in its online questionnaire on eggs and flour visit their website now.

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