Sainsbury's step up demand for organic production of chicken

Sainsbury's has pledged to buy 50% more organic poultry production from Lloyd Maunder over the next two years.

The agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding, was reached between the two businesses during the Devon County Show as growth in demand over the last five years has outstripped the supply of organic poultry meat.

To encourage more farmers to commit to organic poultry production, Sainsbury's is making it clear that it will be willing buyers of 25% more production each year for the next two years.

In turn, Lloyd Maunder has agreed to make every effort to produce at least that increase in volume, dedicated to Sainsbury's stores. "We are seeing some amazing rates of growth," said director Andrew Maunder, "and managing these rates of expansion takes organisation and long-term commitment by everyone involved. And it's not just Sainsbury's we are supplying, other supermarkets are pressing us for supplies too. But Sainsbury's are still our largest customer and we owe them our loyalty because they backed us when organic chicken was a very new and untested market.

"The marketing of organic poultry is moving on from a niche to a mainstream operation, which is very encouraging. It means that organic farmers can develop their poultry operations with confidence, taking their chicks and feed from our hatchery and feed mill in the West Country and using us as a secure and profitable route to market for their product. If they can also supply us with organic grains from their farms for the feed mill, that would be even better, reducing food-miles and making the chickens in every way a West Country product."

Matt Johnson, organic meat buyer for Sainsbury's agreed. "Our organic sales are now rising at between 30% and 40% year-on-year and we're quite certain there is plenty of headroom in the market. Customers know of our commitment to organics - they've seen it again with the big push we gave to the 'SO Organic' range this autumn - and organic chicken is a major component of that range. We are determined to drive sales in organic meat, especially organic chicken but to do this we must have the product to keep pace with the demand."