UK: Sainsbury’s urges UK producers to seek new opportunities for growth

Sainsbury’s Chief Executive Justin King this week urged the British food industry to rise to the challenge of seeking new opportunities for growth, as the supermarket plans to double the amount of British food it sells by 2020.

In a speech to over 1,000 farmers, growers and suppliers at the company’s annual agricultural conference on Wednesday, King said that the UK food industry can grow for the future with confidence, despite the current economic climate, by taking advantage of increasing customer demand for home-grown food.

King said: «As part of our new 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan, we have committed to doubling sales of British food by 2020. That will mean increasing our current sales from over £4bn to over £8bn a year.

«This presents a great opportunity for British farmers, as Sainsbury’s customers increasingly ask for more quality, British food. Now all we need is the industry to work together to create sustainable supply chains for the future.

«In these tough economic times our country needs action to boost sustainability and create secure supply chains, so our long term commitment and investment will provide security and help the food industry plan and grow food for the future with confidence.»

Sainsbury’s farmers and growers have already benefitted from working with the supermarket to improve productivity and efficiency. Dairy farmers alone have saved over £10m in the last five years thanks to improvements in animal welfare and savings in energy bills.

King added: «We’re going further than any other retailer to support farmers in the Sainsbury’s development groups by creating sustainable, resilient supply chains. So far we’ve invested over £30m which includes funding for vet visits, environmental assessments, advice and new IT equipment. We will keep investing in British farming to support the economy and boost farm productivity, creating significant savings on our sustainability journey to 2020.»

Director of Sainsbury’s brand, Judith Batchelar, said: «The breadth and structure of our Development Groups goes further than any other retailer and we are really proud today to host the biggest ever farmers conference. Four of our farmers gave great presentations on the work they’ve been doing in collaboration with us – whether it’s reducing fuel or water consumption, using greener energy sources, or introducing new practices to boost welfare.

National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall commented: «We’re delighted to see Sainsbury’s commitment to double its sourcing of British food. It recognises the high quality and standards of production that British farmers meet and that consumers increasingly expect in the food that they buy.

«This additional demand will send a really positive signal to the industry at a time when farmers are facing massive investment pressures.»

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Date / Fecha: 28/11/11

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