Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury, has said he is willing to open his doors to other farmers’ products, following the launch of an exclusive range of beef and lamb produced by a collective of farmers in the Scottish Highlands.
The Mey Selections line, which is produced under the North Highlands Initiative, has gone on to meat counters in 23 stores, selling at Sainsbury’s highest price point alongside its Taste The Difference meats.
King said: “We don’t have any similar schemes on the bench at the moment, but if there were similar initiatives out there I’d encourage people to phone me.”
King said Sainsbury’s customers made the connection between the food they bought and the farmers who produced it, and they were willing to pay more as a result. “Issues of traceability and provenance have become more important to customers and they understand that comes at a cost. They also understand what it means to the rural communities.”
King said Sainsbury’s strategy of offering great food at fair prices also meant offering food of outstanding quality.
“Our research has shown that our customers are more concerned about the quality and Britishness of products than shoppers at other major supermarkets.
“I ran Marks & Spencer’s food business, so I know where we stand on quality. On primal and produce we have nothing to be embarrassed about.”
The North Highlands Initiative was founded by Prince Charles to benefit farmers, crofters, tourism and local businesses.
Rachel Barnes