Grocery fruit

Banana republic

Sir, The recently announced Asda-Sainsbury’s merger brings with it the threat of an ever more powerful buyer, able to squeeze already struggling ­suppliers even further. Indeed, Sainsbury’s have projected price cuts of “around 10% on many of the products”, meaning 12p from a pack of eight Fairtrade bananas.

However, Banana Link sees the potential upside. Greater buying power and economies of scale could put the merged retailer in a position to increase their commitment to ethical sourcing - covering suppliers’ costs of sustainable production without price cuts being made at the detriment of tropical fruit workers and small-scale farmers.

We are hopeful that the merged retailer will grasp this opportunity with both hands and demonstrate ethical leadership through sustainable pricing.

Jacqui Mackay, national co-ordinator, Banana Link

Forensic traceability

Sir, Five years on from the horsemeat scandal, consumers increasingly want to know about the provenance of the products they buy.

Seventy-five per cent of global consumers list brand origin as a key purchase driver, putting CEOs in the consumer industries under pressure to secure their supply chains.

Some have hailed blockchain as the solution - but blockchains are only as reliable as the data inputted by managers throughout the supply chain.

As forensic scientists, a growing number of global firms are now asking us to trace products such as meat and cotton back to their claimed origin via a ‘chemical fingerprint’ made up of stable isotopes and trace elements, meaning we are not reliant on paper traceability or bar codes.

This process is quick and cost-efficient - and highly accurate. It provides a scientific stamp of authenticity: the truth lies in the product itself, not the packaging.

Grant Cochrane, CEO, Oritain

Loving convenience

Sir, Convenience surrounds us. We expect it and demand it. It is integral to our lives.

It’s ironic then, that it has taken the convenience of online shopping to make us realise what we want from real, not virtual, shops. Right now, convenience isn’t just about serving an immediate need, it’s about building an emotional connection and creating a social space we want to visit. No-compromise convenience is no longer just about selling us ‘stuff’. We want the best in quality, choice, value, for our community and our health - and we want it now.

The future definition of ‘C’ will be all about community, conscience and connectivity. Retailers will need to create engaging spaces that we can fall in love with - that we want to visit as well as needing to.

Tamara Williams, senior creative planner, Parker Williams