Morrisons launches search for 200 local foodmakers to supply stores
Supermarket chain Morrisons is looking to recruit more local food producers as a new report calls for the UK to be more self-sufficient in food production and new consumer research shows a growing appetite from British shoppers for more local food.
‘The Nation’s Local Foodmakers’ programme will see Morrisons aim to sign up 200 new suppliers from across England, Scotland and Wales in the first year. The supermarket is inviting foodmakers to pitch for their place in its supermarkets via a series of 12 regional events starting in Yorkshire on 14 March.
The move comes as a new report published by experts on global food issues, led by Professor Tim Benton of the University of Leeds, says that only 52% of food eaten in the UK comes from British farmers.
Commissioned by Morrisons, the report argues it makes increasing sense to build up a stronger local food sector in the UK and calls on British retailers, producers and customers to recognise the wider benefits of supporting UK food making and production.
It also warns against ‘too much’ reliance on food produced elsewhere and points to the benefits of supporting British foodmakers and farmers. A survey of 2,000 shoppers by Morrisons has also shown that more than two thirds of UK shoppers prefer to buy British with the remainder expressing no preference.
The programme will see Morrisons buyers tour the UK in search of the best local producers to supply its 491 stores nationwide.
In addition, Morrisons will be working with members of the Women’s Institutes around the UK, using their local knowledge and expertise to source and select the best suppliers in their area.
The supermarket said the search will result in more customers being able to buy more food in a British supermarket that was grown, made, picked or packaged within 30-60 miles of their local store,
Andy Higginson, chairman of Morrisons, said: “Our customers tell us they want to see more food that is made just down the road from their own communities and that’s why we are looking for the next generation of British and local foodmakers to serve our 12 million customers.
“We want small UK food suppliers to become bigger ones – the Innocent Smoothies of tomorrow – and we also want to give our customers the option of more food that meets their local food tastes.”
“Morrisons is already British farming’s biggest single customer and the publication of the report today from Professor Benton makes us more determined to produce more of our food and source more from local British suppliers.”
Suppliers will be asked to apply through a new website www.morrisons.com/local. Selected applicants will be invited to an event in their region where they will be able to showcase their food to customers, Morrisons staff and Women’s Institute members as well as Morrisons buyers.
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