Farmers and small scale food producers have been urged to follow
the lead of the Plumgarths ASDA Local Sourcing Initiative in order
bring an essential boost to their local communities and economies
by Sir Don Curry, chairman of the Government’s Sustainable
Farming and Food Implementation Group at a celebration of the venture’s
first five years today, Friday 5 October.
Mallerstang based supplier, Dianne Halliday of Country Fare with
Plumgarth's John Geldard, ASDA's Sally Hopson and Sir Don Curry.
Sir Don also launched the roll out of the initiative’s Best
of the Lakes expanded range offering a total of 250 local branded
products from 32 suppliers to ASDA Kendal and other regional ASDA
The project is being driven by Cumbrian livestock farmer, John
Geldard and his team, whose vision was to successfully reconnect
the food chain, linking small specialist regional food producers
and major retailers, and at the same time reduce the food miles.
In 2002, ASDA recognised the importance of local products, created
a local sourcing team and began working with John and Plumgarths,
his local sourcing hub.
The Plumgarths ASDA Local Sourcing Initiative was subsequently
launched bringing the region’s best locally produced food
and drink direct to the supermarket shop floor and signaling a
sea-change in the way supermarkets work with Britain’s smallest
suppliers. Since then, the blueprint venture has been extended
from ASDA Kendal to 12 ASDA stores throughout the north west.
Furthermore, the Plumgarths ASDA partnership continues to be regarded
as the business model for ASDA to deliver its local sourcing strategy.
The model has been replicated in 13 similar regional food sourcing
hubs throughout the UK and acted as the launch pad for a range
of projects. Today ASDA works with more than 400 local suppliers
offering over 5,000 local products to its 321 stores.
One of the key recommendations of Sir Don Curry’s Future
of Farming and Food Report was for farmers to diversify and find
additional revenue streams. “Back in 2002, I highlighted
a need for farmers to work together to provide great local products.
Since then, consumer demand for local has gained momentum along
with the quest to demonstrate sustainability,” he commented.
“This encouraging trend provides a very welcome and timely reminder that
this is an expanding market which is not only important for local producers,
but will also help sustain local communities. Therefore I believe it has never
before been more important for farmers and small scale food producers to rise
to the challenge and deliver increased volumes of high quality product which
retains added value,” Sir Don said. “That is why I am really pleased
to continue to lend my support to the Plumgarths ASDA initiative and would call
on other producers, as well as retailers to follow this lead.”
ASDA’s Sally Hopson commented: “We're delighted that the hard work
of the teams at Plumgarths and ASDA is being recognised today. At ASDA, we are
committed to giving all our customers the best and widest range possible, and
a strong collection of locally sourced products is a key part of that. We think
it's in all our interests to support our local producers who are part of our
local community where our colleagues and customers live too."
John Geldard added: “The five year journey has exploded the myth that farmers
are unable to work direct with a major retailer; we have accepted the fact the
multiples are serving 80% of consumers and we have learned to mutually understand
and accept each others challenges.
“I am also proud of the fact this is a real world project offering benefits
to both consumers and producers. Firstly, today’s consumers juggling busy
professional and domestic lives are now able to buy high quality local food in
supermarkets virtually 24/7, when previously it was reserved to farm shops and
farmers markets,” he said.
“Furthermore, the Plumgarths ASDA initiative is responding to an unprecedented
demand for local and offering farmers and small scale producers the opportunity
to substantially grow their businesses which in turn are providing new jobs and
encouraging a more sustainable rural economy.”
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