Collaboration across food supply chain needed, according to Co-op
Published:  15 September, 2017

The Co-operative has called for the whole food supply chain to work together in overcoming industry challenges. 

Delegates from across the industry, including Meat Trades Journal, gathered yesterday (14 September 2017) at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester to learn about The Co-op’s strategy in supporting British farmers, and British communities.

The supermarket, which prides itself on real relationships with real farmers and producers, said that, by succeeding together, it can “focus on what matters the most and to influence others”.

This comes after the retailer committed earlier in the year that it will source 100% British meat.

Speaking of the retailer’s commitment to British suppliers, Ciara Gorst, head of agriculture at the Co-op said: “It wasn’t a decision we made overnight. We’ve been working on this over many, many years as most of you will know. The reason we went to 100% British meat was because it’s what our customers were telling us they want. They come to the Co-op because we’re an ethical retailer.”

The retailer also used the conference as a platform to discuss its Farming Pioneers Group. The scheme was designed for its young suppliers to develop their skillsets and become leaders in their field.

The Co-op also took the opportunity to outline its strategic initiatives moving forward into 2018. They are to:
•    Further develop a responsible supply chain
•    Support British farming
•    Help nurture education and youth in the industry
•    Focus on sustainability principles and impacts
•    Empower rural communities.

Following on from a talk by keynote speaker Olympian James Cracknell, who discussed chasing your dreams and working as part of a team, the Co-op presented its farming awards of the year. The winners are:

Beef Farmer of the Year – Jim and Irene Fowlie (James H Fowlie)

Pork Farmer of the Year – Roderic Bruce (G&P Bruce)

Lamb Farmer of the Year – Phil Pearse (FD Pearse)

Poultry Farmer of the Year – The Seed Family (Woodend Eggs)

Dairy Farmer of the Year – Huw Jones (ER Jones and Partners)

Sustainable Seafood Champion – Farne and Lyons

Animal Welfare Champion of the Year – Christian Bagley (Ferry Farm)

Farming Ambassador of the Year – Stockcroft Ltd

Outstanding Farmer of the Year – Huw Jones (ER Jones and Partners)

On the same day, the Co-op launched a new Scottish Salmon Farming Group as part of its commitment to selling responsibly sourced fish. The scheme will bring together stakeholders from across the supply chain, including processor Farne Salmon and Trout Ltd, to enable the retailer to build more strategic and long-term relationships with its Scottish suppliers.

“We’re proud to sell 100% fresh farmed Scottish salmon in our stores and, at a time when consumer demand is rising, now is the perfect time to launch this new Scottish Salmon Farming Group,” said Aisla Jones, the Co-op’s fish sustainability manager.

“It will build on our already-strong sustainability credentials and will allow us to mirror the success we’ve seen across other Co-op farming groups, by enhancing and cementing our existing supplier relationships. We also want to make a positive impact within the Scottish communities that produce our world-class salmon and help future-proof the industry for generations to come.”