Sir; At a time when dairy farmers are facing rising fuel, feed and fertiliser costs, supermarket group Morrisons must be congratulated for increasing its milk buying prices and for telling processors to pass the extra 1p a litre (0.568p a pint) to farmers. Although this is a tiny amount and dairy farmers deserve bigger increases, it is better than nothing.
Morrisons says the move aims to help as many dairy farmers as possible and this is something that I believe has to be hailed as a success for the dairy sector, but it is a shame it wasn't implemented a year ago.
Last year we saw the OFT conclude that three of the four big supermarkets - Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's - colluded with dairies to keep the price of dairy goods artificially high, leading to a £270m overpayment by consumers. However, the supermarkets pocketed the profits and none of it found its way to the dairy farmers.
Bringing a sense of fairness to the dairy sector seems to have finally occurred and I only hope that the other supermarkets will follow the trend so one day we will have a dairy sector not struggling for survival.
Tip for c-stores: focus on the middle aged Andy Wood Managing director, GI Insight
Sir; Your report on buoyancy in the convenience store sector (The Grocer, 17 May, p5) chimes with our experience, in that convenience store chains have recently been much more active in the intelligent use of customer data gathered through loyalty schemes and promotions.
If the sector is to continue this success, then that intelligent customer management needs to become an ingrained part of c-store culture. The large multiples have been doing it for years, and will use their customer insight to try and fight back against any surge in c-store appeal.
So here's a tip for c-store chains that comes out of a market research study we commissioned this year. Retailers are putting more focus on targeted marketing to the young (18-30) and much less on the 45+ age bracket. This smacks of the traditional marketing mantra, 'catch them young and you could have them for life'. Yet the effect is a relative neglect of the age group who have the most money to spend (on finer, more profitable food and drink), and who in ten to twenty years will become retirees and likely to be even keener on their local suppliers. So there is an opportunity here for the convenience store community to take notice of this imbalance in targeted, data-based marketing, and gain an advantage over their multiple rivals.
Sainsbury's will bear cost of banana cuts Nick Kendall Banana buyer, Sainsbury's
Sir; We were extremely frustrated to read your article on banana price wars (The Grocer, 31 May, p4), which wrongly accused our company of looking to pass on last week's reduction in price to suppliers or operators in our supply chain.
The cost of this reduction is, in fact, entirely borne by Sainsbury's, which reflects our commitment to Fairtrade and our belief in the benefits it offers farmers.
Sourcing with integrity is fundamental to the way Sainsbury's does business, and we were the first retailer to convert all our bananas to Fairtrade. This has been a major project but, importantly, our customers have not had to pay for this move. Our Fairtrade bananas are the same price as conventional bananas sold by other supermarkets, while the Fairtrade logo means a fair and sustainable return is always paid to our growers, whatever the retail price.
Customers have welcomed this move, which further benefits growers. Since we switched all bananas to 100% Fairtrade, sales have risen by 10%, which means customers buy an extra one million bananas every week in support of the ethical label.
This year alone, sales of our bananas, tea, coffee and sugar will help create £6m in social premium for producers, and this is set to grow further as customers continue to support the Fairtrade mark.
Great little shop, two careful owners Jane Moore Cheswardine Village Store, Shropshire
Sir; After nearly 31 years of running our village store in Cheswardine, Shropshire, my husband Dennis and I are selling up. It has been been hard work but a lovely way of life.
We took over the store in June 1977 on the weekend of the queen's silver jubilee, which was celebrated in great style by the villagers. During its heyday Cheswardine boasted several shops and four busy pubs. We have seen many changes. New housing developments have arrived and more are planned. Local farms are becoming barn conversions.
Cheswardine is growing, but local services are being lost. The village lost its bakers in 1996 when the owners retired. We then started selling Chatwins of Nantwich home-baked bread, which was very successful. Then the butcher's shop closed in 1999 followed by the village post office at Christmas 2006. Since then we have sold postage stamps too.
Our paper boy Tom is now 81 years old and still delivering papers in all weathers. Can this be a record?
Over the years our shop has gone from being supplied by APT to becoming a VG shop and is now a Spar. We are supplied by AF Blakemore, who deliver everything to our door with great offers and great service.
But we are now in our 50s and have put the village shop on the market so we can do a bit less and have a few holidays. We just hope it will be sold as a going concern for the sake of the village as we are the last shop here.