9 February 2000
Store buyers cool to growers’ advances

By Vicky Houchin

A PLEDGE by the British Potato Council to forge better relationships between growers and supermarket buyers has met with a mixed reaction from retailers.

Growers at a meeting in Peterborough on Tuesday (08 February) told Nigel Jupe, BPC general manager and marketing director, that they wanted to know retailers personally.

Mr Jupe said it was unfortunate that supermarket buyers were only in their positions for a year at a time.

He pledged to look at ways to bring buyers to the organisations Market Information and Technology Transfer meetings.

But Martin Dunford, Sainsburys potato buyer said meeting all growers would take too much because each of the supermarkets 17 suppliers has 100 growers

“If I saw three people every week Id just about get through all my growers in a year, and I only have time to get out the office once every two weeks,” he added.

“Im not here to look after 170 growers. I am here to look after 400 stores and their customers.”

But spokesman for Safeway said buyers would be pleased to meet growers who produced crops for nominated suppliers.

Despite growers concerns, however, other retailers maintained they already knew their growers well.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We have a very good relationship with our growers. Were all in the food chain, were at the top and theyre [growers] at the bottom.”

Asda claimed that its supermarket buyers met farmer suppliers not only through its packers, but also by holding farmer conferences.