As lockdown easing continues, including the recent reopening of indoor hospitality, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is now stressing the importance of a continued “buy local” philosophy amongst UK consumers.

A new appreciation for the role of local farm shops and butchers was experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic as shoppers turned to them as concerns were heightened over personal safety in larger, busier stores and certain products became hard to source.

It is estimated nearly half of British shoppers avoided large supermarkets at the height of the pandemic, favouring farm shops and other local businesses that were able to provide essentials such as meat, vegetables, baking ingredients and other groceries to keep the nation fed.

With the lost luxury of dining out, local butchers and farm shops were there to provide fresh locally produced meat and vegetables as the nation turned back to cooking at home and "dining in".

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: "The nations farmers, growers and dairies work hard every day to feed our nation and provide vital produce for export.

"They continually strive to improve animal health and welfare along with environmental standards and continuously deliver against those standards to a much higher level compared to many other countries.

"The NSA takes great pride in the way the UK’s sheep farmers integrate high quality productivity with a balanced approach to the protection of nature, managing climate change by their farming practices and supporting local communities.

It’s now time to return the favour by continuing to shop locally, using butchers and farm shops, but also asking supermarkets to identify where their produce has been sourced.

"Supporting locally produced food further reduces the need for imported foods, adding to further benefits for climate change for the whole nation.

"Help spread the word by raising awareness and encouraging others to do the same," he concluded.