The Co-operative Group has pledged to support British farmers by upping the amount of UK-grown meat, poultry, fruit & veg and dairy it sells.
Currently spending about £450m a year on British own-brand goods, the business said the figure would rise to £500m under the plans.
At present, almost all the business’s meat and poultry is British with the exception of New Zealand lamb and Danish Bacon. Over the next three years, the retailer aims to sell 100% British lamb - when in season - and expects to do the same with potatoes, onions, swedes, and parsnips. It has also promised to use only UK-sourced meat in all its chilled ready meals, pies and sandwiches. “We would expect this means 85% of our total purchasing will be British,” a spokesman said.
The commitment was laid out in The Co-op’s UK sourcing report, Born and Bred, which launched this week. The report found 90% of shoppers wanted stores to sell more food from British farms. Of 2,000 shoppers surveyed, almost three-quarters (73%) said they had more confidence in British-sourced food and 86% felt food was more traceable when produced on British farms.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said the findings reinforced the “growing role British produce plays in major retailers delivering a product consumers want and trust.” He added: “It is reassuring to see a major retailer setting out its commitments to UK produce in a transparent and reviewable fashion.”
The Co-op Group also plans to build relationships with its produce grower base.
“At the heart of our pledge is a commitment to be open and honest about where the food we sell comes from and to ensure it is marketed and promoted in a fair and transparent way,” said The Co-op’s retail CEO, Steve Murrells.