Sainsbury's Plans £40 Million Investment

UK - 1,000 of Sainsbury's farmers and growers discussed the future of food and farming on Friday at the largest forum of its kind at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
calendar icon 26 October 2010
clock icon 4 minute read

The 'Farming for the Future' conference was the first time the supermarket has brought together such a cross section of its farmers to discuss the major challenges facing the industry, and to explore new ways of making agriculture more sustainable.

The conference looked at some of the current pressures facing the industry and in the future, such as increasing volatility of global markets; rising demand from emerging markets; the impact of climate change and legislation; and how food security will impact global resources.

Working with British and global farmers and growers, Sainsbury's has already made significant progress on sustainability, continuing to drive quality, innovation and efficiency, raising animal welfare standards while reducing their impact on the environment. This has largely been achieved through its' dedicated Development Groups now established across beef, lamb, pork, eggs, chicken, milk, cheese, grain and produce.

Justin King, Chief Executive, Sainsbury's, says: "Creating and maintaining supply chains that are resilient in the face of challenges such as climate change and food security will be crucial in the years ahead.

"We've made great progress in tackling some of these issues with our agricultural supply chain, especially through our Development Groups, which we've already invested £21 million to date. We must now develop even closer working relationships with our farmers, growers and suppliers if we are to achieve a sustainable future that's better for all."

Mike Coupe, Group Commercial Director, Sainsbury's, says: "We want to share our commercial success with the farmers and growers who have played a significant role in our five years of consecutive growth. Farmers and key agricultural suppliers represent the vast majority of our food sales, so it's important to the whole supply chain to help farmers run their businesses successfully, ensuring they are fit for the years ahead."

Sainsbury's has established a series of industry leading Development Group schemes designed to help farmers and suppliers produce more sustainably, both in the UK and overseas. Sainsbury's will announce today that it has already invested £21 million in the Development Groups to date, with a further £40 million planned for the next three years.

The Development Groups and the new Crop Sustainability Groups are practical working partnerships where all parties pool their knowledge about supply chains, and work together to develop the skills and resources suppliers need.

The supermarket takes a collaborative approach to working with farmers to build closer relationships with its supply chain to overcome challenges, and includes offering farmers practical benefits such vet bills, milk recording, carbon audits, IT equipment and training courses.

Sainsbury's Dairy Development Group was the first to be set up in 2006, with an initial investment of £15 million. Earlier this year, Sainsbury's committed a further £40 million for the next three years. The aim of the Group is to help 343 dairy farmers reduce their on-farm costs by improving efficiency, animal health and welfare and reducing their impact on the environment. Farmers are paid a premium on top the milk market price for good agricultural practice, as well as investment in on-farm initiatives.

The group focuses on four key areas: herd health and husbandry, environment and energy, collaborative working and business improvement. For example, we have developed a carbon footprinting tool specially designed for dairy farming, which has the potential to reduce farmers' energy costs and also farmers' carbon footprint by 10% a year.

William Goodwin, Dairy Farmer, says: "The Sainsbury's Dairy Development Group has undoubtedly made my farm more profitable, and if more farmers are joining the group, it can only be a good thing for the dairy industry."

Speakers at the 'Farming for the Future' conference will include the retailer's chief executive, Justin King, Group Commercial Director, Mike Coupe, Director of Sainsbury's Brand, Judith Batchelar. Jim Paice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, William Goodwin, Dairy Farmer and Chair of Sainsbury's Dairy Development Group and Meurig Raymond, Deputy President, NFU.

Meurig Raymond, NFU Deputy President, says: "I am pleased to join Sainsbury's today in highlighting how important collaborative, fair and open relationships are across the whole of the supply chain. The NFU shares in this vision of equitable partnerships that will be needed to underpin the delivery of our food supplies against the many challenges that face us all in the future, particularly within the current economic climate.

"The dedicated Sainsbury's Dairy Development Group is a successful example of how retailers can help support British farmers and we hope this will be echoed across all sectors to deliver what is needed to ensure a thriving food and farming industry."

Jim Paice, Agriculture Minister, says: "The UK has a vibrant food industry committed to producing quality food for consumers all over the world. Building better relationships along the food chain is good for business and this event is helping to do that.

"We trust producers to know what's best for their business, and the Government is doing its part to get rid of unnecessary red tape through the work of Richard MacDonald's taskforce, and other groups such as the Fruit and Veg Taskforce."

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