The alliance will rail against the homogenisation of the food industry by encouraging shoppers to look at the provenance of their produce, and also combat the isolation that can come from the increasing digitisation of the food shopping experience by encouraging the face to face contact and expertise that are all part of market shopping in such historic locations.
Borough Market is joining the M7 alliance with La Boqueria, Barcelona; Markthalle Neun, Berlin; Central Market Hall, Budapest; Sydney Fish Market, Sydney; Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne and Pike Place Market, Seattle - all markets which are known for the outstanding quality of their food, the iconic nature of their locations and the important role they play in their cities.
The partnership will focus on sharing knowledge and expertise in areas including championing quality, sustainability and environmental approaches to food and its production. They will also work together in skill sharing, community development and innovative uses of the historic spaces and places they are situated in.
By coming together with common goals, the M7 markets will be able to speak with one voice on the world stage, tackling key issues such as sustainability, shorter supply chains, urban regeneration and community engagement. The memorandum of understanding will also support staff development through an international exchange programme. The longer-term objective will be to strengthen and grow the group by inviting other global food markets to join the alliance.
Over the last 20 years the founding partners of the M7 alliance have emerged as global food icons. However, due to the huge pressure on land use in city centres, many of the markets are, or have recently been, under threat from development, new transport and infrastructure projects, or the effects of pollution. Typically, their historic urban locations and unique atmosphere mean that the markets are also under pressure from the sheer numbers of visitors they attract – a combined total of approximately 74.5 million people annually - and the need to balance this with the local community, infrastructure and amenities. The partnership will seek to share best practice on how to address these challenges whilst maintaining the authenticity and traditions of the market experience for shoppers and visitors.
Donald Hyslop, Chair of Trustees, Borough Market, London said: "I am very excited by the formation of the M7 markets alliance and its potential to be a voice for innovative thinking. In a world where we are increasingly looking inward markets can play a unique role in linking the local and the global, from Seattle to Sydney, Budapest to Borough. Markets bring people together to enjoy some of life's great pleasures: the love of good food, company and community. We are also seeing growing interest across the world from the public in all aspects of food; they want to know where their food comes from and speak directly to the farmer, or the producer who brings their crop to market, the fisherman who's dived for the scallops and the artisan who's churned the cheese. Through networks such as the World Union of Wholesale Markets, it has become obvious that the M7 markets share a huge amount of the same opportunities, experiences and challenges. This agreement sets an expectation that we will share our knowledge and experience where we can, and support our staff to learn from each other."
Òscar Ubide i Marcet, Manager, La Boqueria, Barcelona, said: "When we meet our colleagues in London, Budapest, Seattle or Sydney we see that the opportunities and challenges facing markets that occupy a central role in their city are the same. By exchanging management models and experiences, this alliance will help us grow and continue to keep our beloved markets in their rightful place, at the centre of fresh food provision for each one of our cities and countries."
John Turnbull, Director of Asset Management, Pike Place Market, Seattle, said: "Our great public markets are extraordinary community assets. They reflect local culture, host dynamic social interactions and nurture small independent businesses. In today's increasingly homogenous and digital world, these public markets remain expressions of essential face-to-face interactions. Meeting the challenges of tourism, e-commerce, and changing demographics requires a special type of stewardship based on local values."
Florian Niedermeier, Managing Director, Markthalle Neun, Berlin, said: "Markets are the places where people first met to barter and trade food and ideas. That's how cities started and that is where the roots of their structure and organisation are to be found. We are delighted to be part of this international alliance, as we feel that it is our communal, universal duty to explore new ways and approaches to that ancient interconnection between people, food, farming and trade."
Levente Kiss, Sales Director, Central Market Hall, Budapest, said: "We are very proud to be part of this agreement, because every market across the world has different cultural values, but they also have those common points which can be shared with each other to learn and develop. Through this cooperation markets can be both global food icons and the cultural centre of each country."
Bryan Skepper, General Manager, Sydney Fish Market, said: "Borough Market, Sydney Fish Market and our other international partners share a passion for best-in-class produce and connecting consumers with the origins of their food. We have long admired Borough Market's amazing culture, history and quality so it is with great pleasure that we enter into this partnership which will enable us to knowledge-share and collaborate."