Supermarkets’ lowest price approach is ‘socially, economically and politically flawed’ – Barr

The farming industry needs to exploit the fact that supermarkets are working desperately hard to prove their Corporate Social Responsibility credentials, according to the chairman of the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Speaking at the annual MLC Westminster barbeque on Wednesday evening (12 July), Peter Barr claimed retailers were working overtime to proclaim their CSR achievements.

“We have to pull all levers on CSR – this is about persuading the supermarkets that their lowest price approach is socially, economically and politically flawed in the longer term,” he said.

“Retailers must abandon their “reduce your price and tender” approach and work together to take cost out of the whole supply chain. This approach will deliver genuine long-term benefit to the consumer.”

Mr Barr said there were signs that the agricultural industry was starting to worry the retailers.

But there were still only pockets of good practice and unless there was a more general shift in policy and practice then there would be significant erosion of the UK’s slaughtering and production sector.

“With size comes responsibility,” he said. “Multiple retailers must work with us on a whole chain approach to deliver real value to the consumer and to ensure we can deliver a sustainable British meat and livestock sector.”

What is CSR?

Essentially it is about how business takes account of its economic, social and environmental impacts in the way it operates – maximising the benefits and minimising the downsides.

Specifically, the government says it sees CSR as the voluntary actions that business can take, over and above compliance with minimum legal requirements, to address both its own competitive interests and the interests of wider society.