Sir; It is perhaps unfortunate that you chose Booths to illustrate the point you made in your Analysis last week 'Independents too can feel the heat of nimby wrath' (7 June, p24).
Unless I have missed something, Booths shut a store last year only to open one that was 10 times as big and with the full Booths offer.
Over the past decade we have run a programme of replacing aged stores, some of which have been more than 100 years old, and adding stores in new locations. On the surface it may appear that we have not grown a great deal but consider that in 1998 our turnover was £103m and that it will be reported at circa £240m for 2007 (£231m for 2006).
What you also fail to recognise is that we will be fitting out a 25,000 sq ft store at Ripon in November, which opens at the end of June 2009. In September 2009 we are opening a similar-sized store at Garstang which replaces a 4,000 sq ft store. Oh, and in April 2010 we are opening a new 12,000 sq ft store at Hesketh Bank.
Planning permission has never been easy to obtain and nor has the approval of local businesses and residents. It takes a great deal of hard work and persistence to grow a retail food business.
Charge of squeezing farmers not justified Jonathan Betts General manager chilled foods, Asda
Sir; I read with interest the letter by the dairy farmer JD Hamer last week criticising our latest milk promotion (Letters, 7 June, p22). He asks "did we not learn from last time?" and the simple answer is yes. We learned that when you promote milk you drive up consumption. When you charge your customers less they save money and purchase more.
As he will no doubt know, the liquid milk market has suffered long-term declines of 10% over the last decade. Increasing consumption, therefore, has to be in the interest of all in the dairy sector.
Asda sources its milk from a dedicated pool of 500 farmers who are paid a premium for supplying us with their milk. We were the first major supermarket to establish such an arrangement more than four years ago. Our milk price is also widely published for all to see on the Farmers' Weekly website and in the DairyCo publications. Prior to last week's promotion we increased the amount our farmers receive by 0.5p per litre, building on our pledge four years ago to always ensure they never lose out when we cut retail prices.
Commentators need to decouple retail prices from cost prices in their own heads before making simplistic, ill-informed assumptions about Asda's strategy. I fail to see how lowering the price of milk for customers and paying our farmers more can be condemned. The charge of squeezing farmers cannot be justified.
Dreadful cruelty to hens not acceptable Bruce Friedrich Vice president, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Sir; Kudos to Waitrose for its compassionate decision to include only free-range eggs as ingredients in its products (The Grocer, 7 June, p6).
For many of the eggs and egg ingredients sold in other stores, hens are crammed together in wire cages where they don't even have enough room to spread a single wing. The cages are stacked on top of each other, and the excrement from chickens in the higher cages constantly falls on those below. The birds have part of their sensitive beaks cut off so that they won't peck each other as a result of the frustration created by the unnatural confinement. After their bodies are exhausted and their production drops, they are shipped to slaughter, generally to be turned into chicken soup or petfood because their flesh is too bruised and battered to be used for much else.
For the same reason we would all recoil in horror at such treatment of dogs or cats, we should recoil at this treatment of hens. Chickens are inquisitive, interesting animals who are as intelligent as mammals such as cats, dogs, and even primates. Dr Chris Evans, of Australia's Macquarie University, says: "As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list [chickens'] attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I'm talking about monkeys."
It is time for all companies to follow the lead of trendsetting companies like M&S, Waitrose, and McDonald's by working to phase out the use of eggs from horribly abused hens.
Recycling: progress but no quick fixes Ian Schofield Group sales director, Sun Branding Solutions
Sir; The recent report by the Local Government Association heavily criticised the supermarkets over their recyclable packaging, claiming up to 38% of all food packaging in a typical shopping basket cannot be recycled. Shock figures, yes, but these findings do nothing to show the significant research going on behind the scenes to find alternative environmentally friendly packaging.
The report would do well to recognise some of the real breakthroughs that have been made. At Sun Branding Solutions we work with three of these so-called villains and have made huge strides in reducing their packaging waste.
One of the big initiatives we are currently working on is to provide recyclable laminate films. This takes time as it's a technically difficult process, involving the removal of high-barrier materials. But progress is being made, and just imagine the impact this would have on landfill, for example, if we were able to recycle all crisp packets.
However, recycling initiatives must adhere to all environmental and food quality guidelines. You cannot tackle recycling on its own. The industry, its commentators and the media need to be patient and realise there is no quick fix.