Co-op to source own label fresh chicken from British farmers

The Co-operative is extending its support to British farmers by converting all its own-label fresh chicken to British sources from this week.

All The Co-operative's fresh beef, fresh pork and fresh duck is already British, but the community-based retailer's support for British meat and poultry is being extended to include all its own-label fresh chicken.

The Co-operative has carefully selected a small group of dedicated British farmers to embrace the retailer's own higher welfare "Elmwood" standard for fresh whole chickens, which means the birds are nurtured for longer in more enriched environments. This will be extended to all Co-operative fresh chicken from early next year.

In response to increasing customer interest in the provenance of food, The Co-operative has launched a campaign from championing British food - not only meat, but a whole range of foods sourced from the UK. The campaign is being backed by national TV advertising,

Throughout autumn, Co-op stores will also feature point of sale material that will highlight the provenance of food.

The Co-operative's unique position as Britain's biggest farmer will also be promoted - at different times of year, depending on the season. It already hosts visits at a number of its farms to encourage children to learn about where their food comes from. In addition to this, The Co-operative is backing the Year of Food and Farming by providing £250,000 worth of support for the project to enable schools to visit local farms across the UK.

In support of home-grown food, The Co-operative has developed new products based on traditional favourites made with British ingredients. These include Lamb Casserole and Shepherds Pie in response to a new survey which has shown that these traditional comfort foods remain as popular as ever with the British public.

The Co-operative surveyed British consumers to find out their attitudes towards home-grown food.

The results show it said that over two thirds of the UK population claim a strong sense of pride in our unique culinary heritage. Three quarters of people think British food is wholesome and hearty, with winter being nominated as the best season for eating British. The most popular meal - by age,region and gender - was the traditional Sunday roast.

Guy McCracken, chief executive - Food Retail at The Co-operative Group, said: "We are committed to supporting British farmers and all Co-operative fresh meat and poultry is now British. We know this is important to Co-op customers, who are also increasingly interested in the seasonality and provenance of the food they buy. By working closely with British farmers, including many small local producers, we are providing the opportunity for our customers, whether they live in Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland, to enjoy and take pride in the best foods sourced from their nation."