Bureaucracy, soup and supermarkets

To sell soup on a local market here, you need to undergo a variety of (reasonable in more balanced circumstances) checks as a catering provider. After filling out a carrier bag full of forms which reduce every recipe you may possibly use, down to each possible ingredient and cooking technique and process, you may be required to modify your kitchen at home to a catering standard, and regular inspections of that kitchen for the forseeable. God help you if you use that wooden rolling pin for pastry and get caught, and you may want to rethink the cat.

That means taking soup to the market to sell, comes with months of forms and inspections, each with their own process and a demand your entire house is run on the council’s command for as long as you continue. The expense of food hygiene certification and ‘training’, public liability insurance…Then you need to get a permit from that market, which comes with more restrictions. A not guaranteed pitch that could be next to a café, on a market where people have started buying cheese by the 2 and 4oz, and meat by the meals for a fiver.

For not the biggest profit, you would need to undergo months and months of expense and administration. And that is on top of getting together the investment in carrots and coriander, cooking pots and cups and realising you are shit at making soup. And enough people have gone to this massive effort, that our local market is reviving to become a thriving little food hub. On a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, we are spoiled for great food, locally produced, and cheap.

A business community which attracts people and business to the centre of the town, as a collective they have been at the forefront of campaigns against various supermarkets, most recently Sainsburys. Now Asda are staking a claim in a spot which will suck the life out of the business they have built, and the Sainsbury bid looks set to rise from the dead.  Supermarkets don’t appear to have the finance troubles small businesses have, and weather lengthy battles and local democracy with ease.