Diet and health are areas in which SMEs have an important role to play, especially as obesity and weight-related diseases are on the increase in the UK. For consumers having trouble accessing a healthy diet, the access problems and coping strategies are often very local in character; having effects over distances of no more than a kilometre or two. Difficulties experienced by consumers in the Yorkshire area (Shaw H, 2003) included main roads with numerous pedestrian crossings or steep hills, arduous for pensioners to carry food up or mothers with children to cross in safety when weighed down with shopping bags. These are areas where small local retailers may be better able to respond to local needs. Payday Loans Online
In deprived suburbs such as Longley in Sheffield local community shops and cafes selling healthy food and snacks have opened with good results. In Longley, which has traditionally suffered disproportionately high unemployment, small grocery shops have been set up by local people; employment was generated out of the shop’s profits, and the shop enabled people to access reasonably-priced fresh fruit and vegetables without necessitating an £1.20 bus fare each way; a considerable sum to somebody on only approximately £60 a week in State Benefits (fooddeserts.org, 2011). Farmers markets are also a popular way of reconnecting local consumers with local producers, and because of their relatively small turnover, farmers markets can risk selling lesser known fruit and wider vegetable varieties and thereby introduce a greater variety of healthy foods into the local diet, in contrast to the standardised choice in many superstores. For example, the most common supermarket strawberry is the tasteless and hard Elsanta, most plums are of the similarly unappetising Angelino variety (mass produced for their durability on long journeys), and the range of apple types in large supermarkets represents but a small sample of the range once grown in British orchards (Guardian, 2005). However farmers markets can prosper or decline on purely local factors; for example the farmers market in Barton failed because it was 100 metres away from the main pedestrian flows of this small Lincolnshire town.