Some might question the wisdom of putting all your eggs, or tomatoes, in a basket marked Sainsbury, but that is what one fresh produce company has done - and it is convinced it is the right way forward.
Fresh Link’s sole client is Sainsbury and it was set up specifically to supply the retailer. It supplies the multiple with about 50% of its summer volume of tomatoes and 20% of its winter volume, which means it is its biggest tomato supplier.
The bad press that Sainsbury has endured might inspire despondency in some suppliers, but Fresh Link marketing director Paul Faulkner is upbeat.
“It is strategically more sensible to develop a larger business with Sainsbury than to go anywhere else because of the disproportionate amount of cost associated with picking up another customer.” Faulkner says Fresh Link is “incredibly happy” with the way business has been going with its sole customer, as sales are now in excess of £20m a year.
The business is run on a non profit-making basis, with any surplus money reinvested.
“The Fresh Link model has proved to be of interest to a lot of people in produce,” he adds.
“A lot of companies with several customers haven’t made it, perhaps because they haven’t been focused enough on providing the right service.”
Harbouring hopes of extending its portfolio with the multiple, he says: “Everyone here is passionate about doing the right job for them.”
Fresh Link, which was responsible for introducing the black Kumato tomato to Sainsbury last year, represents the interests of five British growers of tomatoes and cucumbers, who created the company in February 2003.
Greg Meenehan