Scottish farmers’ union meets with upcoming Sainsbury’s boss

National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS) has met with future Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe, where he pledged the retailer’s commitment to British produce.

The meeting, which took place in Edinburgh on 1 April 2014, addressed concerns that a price war between supermarkets could drive down meat prices – taking money out of farmers’ pockets. However Coupe, who has a lengthy career with large supermarkets such as Iceland and Asda, expressed the retailer had no desire to fuel a price war and wanted to concentrate on working closely with British producers.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s explained: “We’re proud to support Scottish farmers and suppliers and give our customers the best that Scottish agriculture has to offer. Working with our 260 farmers in Scotland means we can sell outstanding products, including regionally sourced eggs and fresh pork across our core range in our Scottish stores.” The retailer aims to double sales of British produce by 2020.

NFUS president Nigel Miller said: “We certainly welcome his commitment to grow the Scottish and British offering in stores and his interest in working more closely with primary producers on the basis of contracts which account for cost of production.

“Quality and ethical sourcing are high up on Sainsbury’s agenda and the company is looking to establish assurance standards to underpin that. Any proliferation in assurance schemes can only add cost for producers and retailers, so it was good to hear that Sainsbury’s is willing to work with industry on those standards to avoid repeated inspections or duplication.

“We harbour deep concerns about the impact that the current supermarket price war could have, selling staple goods at rock-bottom prices and stripping value out of the chain. While farmers on direct supply contracts may be sheltered just now, we discussed with Mr Coupe our worries that primary producers will suffer if the price war continues long term.”

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