Farmers are being offered an opportunity to make the case for their food to be given shelf space in one of Britain’s largest supermarkets.
Morrisons has announced it wants to recruit 200 new local food suppliers to meet British shoppers’ growing appetite for more local food.
The retailer is holding 12 regional events, starting in Yorkshire on 14 March and running until July, where it will be inviting food producers to pitch for a place for their products on the supermarket shelves.
For a chance to feature at a regional event, suppliers are first being asked to apply through a dedicated section of Morrisons’ website.
The website also includes a provisional list of all the regional events and the closing date by which applications must be received for each venue.
After the written applications have been assessed, selected applicants will be invited to an event in their region where they will be able to showcase their food to customers, Morrisons’ staff and Women’s Institute members, as well as Morrisons’ buyers.
The initiative comes in the wake of an independent report, commissioned by Morrisons, which concludes in the light of global uncertainties it makes increasing sense to build up a stronger local food sector in the UK.
The report, led by Tim Benton from the University of Leeds, said the UK can never – and should not aim to be – self-sufficient in food production.
“However, it makes sense to hedge our bets and build a more resilient system, by growing our local production to provide more food, and more diverse food, to the nation.
“This will protect our farming economy, our environment, and lead to more clarity about where our food comes from.”
Andy Higginson, chairman of Morrisons, said: “Our customers tell us they want to see more food that is made just down the road from their own communities and that’s why we are looking for the next generation of British and local food makers to serve our 12 million customers.
“We want small UK food suppliers to become bigger ones – the Innocent Smoothies of tomorrow – and we also want to give our customers the option of more food that meets their local food tastes.”
British Food Report – conclusions
- The rapid increase of global goods trading over the past three decades means the UK now exports £18bn of food while importing £39bn. This puts us at risk of climate change and trade wars.
- The UK has seen a decline in the amount of indigenous produce grown with orchards, for example, now accounting for 25,100ha (62,000 acres) compared with 113,000ha (280,000 acres) 50 years ago.
- However, British customers have an appetite to buy more local food because they believe it to be more trustworthy and that it supports their local communities.
- Supporting local food makers will support the local economy, maintain a thriving agricultural sector, create a greater diversity of farm types producing more diverse foods and benefit the countryside.