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Stackyard News Oct 07

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Plumgarths Asda Local Sourcing Initiative Lead

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.

Country Fare

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 stores.

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.”

link Demand Encourages More Woodland Free Range Egg Producers
link Field-to-Plate Cutting Down on Food Miles
link ASDA Extends Local Sourcing Scheme

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