Asda sets up monthly farm market Farmers sell goods in supermarket Asda turns itself into a farm shop

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IN WHAT must be one of the most audacious attempts to cut out the middleman, farmers and dairymen took their products into a supermarket yesterday and sold them from the aisles.

Remarkably, the Asda store in Colne, Lancashire, had actually invited the dairymen of Laneshaw Bridge and Longridge to sell their own milk and dairy products. The Colne store plans to repeat the idea on a monthly basis.

The supermarkets' mark-up on farm goods these days can be as much as 100 per cent, so most producers in Colne concede that the help from Asda is unexpected. "There has been a lot of antagonism, particularly on the meat side, in Lancashire," said Janet Leach of the Littletown Dairy in Longridge. "In the past it was `We've got the power, do what we say,' but now customers want to know about the producers."

Asda was sanguine about its customers favouring home-made alternatives direct from the farmhouse gate. "Our markets are only held two days a month and the money we lose we can afford to lose," said the store's customer services manager, Susan Lindley.

Mrs Leach, whose dairy has tried and failed to persuade Asda buyers to stock its produce in the past, was more forthright. "We can undercut them because we've not got their overheads," she said."When we make produce for supermarkets it's made to the price they're prepared to pay, so there might be less fruit, a slight change in the recipe. We're selling the real thing."