Farming News - CPRE claims supermarkets failing to support farmers and the environment

CPRE claims supermarkets failing to support farmers and the environment

24 Jun 2013


Following an investigation and letter writing initiative, with the aim of analysing supermarkets' relationships with their suppliers, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England said on Thursday (20 June) that large retailers are "failing to support the countryside and the rural economy."


CPRE said the organisation believes "all the major supermarkets could do a lot better [at] supporting the farmers, local food producers, and the management of the countryside."

Ian Woodhurst, Senior Food and Farming Campaigner at CPRE, said, "Supermarkets dominate the grocery sector and our food chain. Given this, they need to use their immense market power to support the nation's farmers, the countryside they manage, and boost sales of local food."


The countryside group is urging retailers to:

•         Pay farmers a fair price for their produce – by taking into account fluctuations in the cost of fertiliser, diesel and animal feed into supermarket pricing formulas
•         Stock and promote more 'countryside friendly' food such as produce from LEAF farmers, 'Woodland Eggs' or 'Conservation Grade' cereals, to help to manage landscape features and wildlife habitats
•         Shorten supply chains by setting challenging targets for stocking local food - CPRE would like to see at least 10% of sales in a supermarket come from the local area (defined as from within 30 miles)


Out of all of the UK's 'Big Seven' supermarkets CPRE contacted during its campaign, only Waitrose responded directly. Waitrose executives said they supported farmers and the natural environment through commitment to the LEAF mark scheme, adherence to "an active local and regional sourcing policy," and a recent relaxation of cosmetic standards on fresh produce in light of the challenging weather the store's UK suppliers are facing.  


Other supermarkets pointed to their dedicated supply groups (Tesco), direct buying policies, aimed at "cutting out the middle man" (which served Morrisons well during the recent Horsemeat scandal), and the number of local or regional products they sell.  


However, CPRE said it "would like to see more support for farmers environmental management work from across the whole food supply chain, to compliment the activity undertaken by publicly funded green farming schemes."