Seasonal British produce gets prominent positions

British food can be a big seller, but it must play to its strengths and get over expectations of patriotic support, according to the UK’s biggest supermarkets.

Research into reconnecting the supply chain, headed by Sir Donald Curry and supported by the major multiples, claimed that 50% of consumers had no interest in where their food had come from, although many wanted more seasonal produce.

“In reconnecting, it is essential that we respond to what customers want, which is to pay a fair price for products that are fresh, tasty and healthy,” said Karen Schenstrom, director for primary agriculture at Sainsbury’s.

But farmers should realise that it is these three qualities, and not simply local provenance, that is driving local and regional food sales, she said. “British food is well placed to deliver against these needs.”

Graham Cassie, local and regional buyer at Waitrose, said sales had ballooned by 73% in the past 12 months alone. “Our customers are voting with their feet in this area, and we can see this increasing further in time.”

Tesco, too, is focusing on the seasonality message, because it says its customers are demanding it. It has just launched a campaign that puts seasonal home-grown produce in prominent aisle-end displays, where Cox apples, peas, beans, pumpkins, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries and courgettes will appear over the course of the next year.

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