Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, visits an organic beef farm near Perth today [1 December 2009] to find out more about the way a supermarket works cooperatively with its suppliers.
Tarrylaw Farm at Balbeggie supplies Waitrose with prime Scottish beef. Richard Lochead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, will tour the farm to hear about the collaborative approach Waitrose takes to working with farmers and suppliers.
Waitrose, which is part of John Lewis Partnership, the UK’s largest employee-owned business, champions local and regional suppliers and now stocks over 300 Scottish lines in its Glasgow and Edinburgh stores.
Of vital importance to Waitrose is the provenance and traceability of the food that is on the shelves.
All beef sold by Waitrose is British and comes from a group of carefully chosen farms across Scotland and the rest of the UK, many of which have worked exclusively with the company for over 10 years.
Every batch of Waitrose beef can be traced back to the farm where it was produced. Specialist butchers prepare the beef before it goes on sale, so it's in the hands of experts from farm to counter.
The long-term partnerships that Waitrose forges, offers farmers the security they need to invest in sustainable farming practices that benefit the environment.
Waitrose encourages its farmers to improve the wildlife habitat and increase biodiversity and species numbers, by creating ‘wildlife corridors’ through careful management of hedgerows, ditches, watercourses and field margins.
Farming organic livestock and organic crops in a completely integrated way, Tarrylaw is typical of the sort of farm Waitrose chooses to work with.
Apart from its beef cattle, it is also home to healthy populations of birds, red squirrels, brown hares and owls thanks to the extensive hedgerow planting programme, which has seen Tarrylaw win several environmental awards.
Duncan Sinclair, Waitrose Agricultural Manager, said:
“As an employee-owned business, we believe in treating our farmers and suppliers with respect. We’ve worked with many of our Scottish beef farmers for well over 10 years.
“Forming long term partnerships is central to our approach. It means our suppliers understand and share our values and are committed to our high standards of quality, food safety and animal welfare.
It’s also central to our belief that in order to secure the UK’s future food supply, we must ensure that British farmers enjoy a vibrant and sustainable future.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
“Like me, Waitrose is firmly of the view that Scotland is home to some of the best regional and local produce available anywhere in the world. Today’s visit is a welcome opportunity to see how Waitrose is working closely with local suppliers to increase its sourcing of delicious Scottish produce.
“Waitrose was one of the first supermarkets to sign up for our Retailers' Charter, and I am delighted that they are also investing in a business committed to addressing losses in biodiversity and habitat through the Scotland Rural Development Programme.
“Through the Charter and our Retailers’ Forum we are determined to ensure a sustainable and profitable future for our farmers, fishermen, producers and suppliers.
“It is extremely encouraging that leading retailers are continuing to recognise the value of Scotland's food and drink, which is of vital importance to the health of local economies and communities. I look forward to this alliance developing further.”
1. Waitrose now has three stores in Scotland: Byres Road, Glasgow, opened on 12/11 and the other two are both in Edinburgh – at Comely Bank and Morningside. Waitrose now has 220 stores UK wide.
2. Waitrose is planning a new-build store in Newton Mearns, 6 miles south of Glasgow city centre – this will be the largest Waitrose in Scotland and will open in 2011 subject to permission being granted.
3. Waitrose now offer nearly 300 lines from suppliers and producers across Scotland from household names to individual farmers.
4. Each new store opening represents an investment in Scotland’s agri-food sector for example, six farmers now supply Waitrose with Columbian Blacktail eggs to meet the demand for organic Scottish eggs; our seafood partner Macrae Edinburgh opened a £10 million facility in Livingston to supply us with ready-prepared and chilled Scottish seafood in 2007.
5. We continue to actively promote Scottish suppliers throughout the business for example Gigha Halibut, signed up last month, now supplies 76 UK stores.