Consolidate London markets, says Boycott

London's wholesale markets should consolidate, according to the Mayor of London's new food champion Rosie Boycott.

Boycott, former Fleet Street editor and now chair of London Food, was speaking at the recent London Markets' Symposium at City Hall, where she told the audience of wholesalers and market operators that she supported the concept of consolidation within the wholesale sector.

"There has been a lot of debate about consolidation of the wholesale markets, making them one-stop shops. I know it's quite contentious, but I'm in favour of it."

She said she understood the issue of creating composite markets, but said the authorities needed to look at things across the board and expected to see greater consolidation within the sector in the future.

Boycott was appointed to her new role to champion the provision of high-quality, nutritious food into London. She told delegates that London's markets, both wholesale and street markets, had a major role to play in providing consumer access to locally or regionally produced food.

She said that there were growing problems, such as food security and environmental challenges. "Developing a local food structure will make us much more secure and markets have a role to play in that," she said.

Creating food hubs and even using the train to bring food into London would help cut food miles and reduce emissions, she added, noting that our current methods of food production needed to change. Responding to a statement from the audience that organic production was the only solution for the environment, she said: "I'm completely behind you that we have to look at alternative agricultural production methods.

"We have energy-intensive agriculture, but we have to change this. I find it incredible that it's less energy-intensive to bring food from New Zealand - we need to look at this, as I cannot believe it's sustainable or secure."

The London Markets Symposium was organised as part of the London Wholesale Markets Month and also for the relaunch of the Association of London Markets, an organisation to support the Capital's markets.