Retailer response to petition

At the Royal Show, Farmers Weekly presented its food miles petition to the major retailers with the support of Conservative Party leader David Cameron.

The petition calls for supermarkets to do more to stock, promote and label locally produced food in a way that supports local producers and cuts down the distance food is transported.

On the same day we wrote to the chief executives of the leading supermarkets calling on them to provide a clear statement of their position on local food now, and where they intend to be in a year’s time.

Sainsbury’s was the only multiple to attend our Royal Show briefing, although Somerfield and Tesco provided initial written responses and Waitrose sponsored our on-stand food miles activity for kids.

But we’re still waiting to hear directly from all the CEOs, and we’ll be chasing them for a response.

The good news is that the retailers do seem to be engaging much more with the issue of local food.

Since we launched the campaign there has been an upsurge in activity from the retail sector including announcements from Tesco and Sainsbury’s that they want to do more to work with, and open up access to, local producers.

Tesco also announced it was planning to take non-food freight off the road and on to the railway in an effort to reduce C02 emissions.

The message is clearly getting through. Let’s hope food products follow close behind.

And TV channel UKTV Food is getting in on the act too.

Chef Gary Rhodes is shortly to go in search of local food Food Heroes with an 11-part series to be broadcast in November on national television.