For supermarkets, short and efficient supply chains must be the ultimate ’gold standard’ to aim for. This week, Sainsbury’s announced a brand new initiative on bakery, sourcing wheat from a UK farmers’ co-operative (pg 4). It is an admirable way of supporting British farmers and lowering the carbon footprint, while achieving the longer-term aim of dispensing with Canadian wheat.
Sainsbury’s research shows that customers want to know provenance. So the wheat, harvested within a 30-mile radius of East Anglia’s breadbasket, helps to fulfil that criterion.
The ’local sourcing’ message has been around for some time, but is gaining ground, and Sainsbury’s has found an original way to deliver on the bakery front. Years ago, we used to emphasise ’Buy British’. The EU has tried to make that unfashionable and would like to impose an EU label but there has been strong opposition, from the French in particular!
Sainsbury’s has also launched a British Flour Develop-ment Group, designed to drive efficiency and discuss everything from pesticide use to other environmental issues. Personally, I have always lamented the fact there is little alternative to organic and non-organic, believing that there should be a middle ground of ’natural’, which should include pesticide-free, and no use of chemical fertilisers, for example. The only problem would be policing it.
Meanwhile, the issue of 18% Capital Gains tax to be levied on small businesses, removing taper relief, just won’t go away. Congratulations to the CBI and others for their continued lobbying of both government and the media; that is the only way to get noticed. As Edmund Burke once said: "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." But this tax increase is the latest in a series of punitive measures to undermine small companies - never mind the knock-on effects of the minimum wage and increasing business rates and rents.
Our feature on pg 14 looks at how French bakers thrive alongside supermarkets. British businesses simply do not get the same local authority support as those in Europe, where local councils are fiercely protective of local shops, while still supporting the supermarkets. The EU interferes and imposes legislation in some areas, while totally ignoring it in others. There’s no rhyme or reason to it at all.