Supermarkets to up farmer relationships

Waitrose and Morrisons have topped a study into the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of the UK's biggest supermarket chains.

A report published by the National Farmers Union (NFU) revealed the policies supermarkets have implemented and their effects on British farmers and growers.

Morrisons and Waitrose both committed to 100% UK sourcing in a variety of areas in the business, and Sainsbury's has pledged to double UK sourcing by 2020 to make a significantly positive impact on agriculture.

Tom Hind, director of corporate affairs at the NFU, said: “Having good relationships with the UK’s grocery retailers is critical to the success of British agriculture and horticulture.

“Over recent years, many retailers have sought closer relationships with farmers and growers. They have developed standards to meet the expectations of groups of consumers, set up dedicated pools in some sectors and sought to champion UK and local sourcing.”

Marks & Spencer's Plan A incorporates a number of important elements that benefit UK farmers in terms of investment in research to extend growing seasons and create market opportunities for farmers and growers, said the NFU.

Asda has developed the Farmlink initiative and research and development programme, which it said “offer some good examples of positive farmer engagement and approaches to sustainability”.

Lidl and Aldi are ramping up efforts when it comes to UK sourcing, with Aldi offering 100% British fresh meat, the report found.

Hind added: “All of the retailers we looked at could do more to establish clear baselines and targets that can be measured on policies such as sourcing. All could do more to highlight the role of Red Tractor Assurance schemes. And all could do more to strengthen relationships with farmers across all sectors.”

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