M&S backs British farming

M&S SUPPORT RI Farm

M&S is championing British farming and pledging support for its family of nearly 10,000 farmers across the UK as they face ever-growing challenges during these exceptional times.

Last Tuesday M&S launched a six-week campaign – spanning TV, social and in-store – that aims to put the fantastic efforts of British farmers and growers at the forefront for customers and highlight its ongoing commitments to sourcing meat, farmed fish, poultry, dairy and fruit, veg and horticulture from farmers across the country.

With travel restrictions in place, M&S is using ‘farmer cam’ footage on its website and social channels with interviews from farmers and growers across the country.

M&S will also air newly re-edited versions of its Fresh Market Update TV series following ITV’s 6.30pm news every Monday to Thursday, which goes behind the scenes at M&S’s Select Farms across the UK producing beef, pork, salmon, raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes. M&S will also shine a spotlight on British products across its stores with new décor and signage in place.

Stuart Machin, Managing Director of M&S Food, said: “Despite the enormous challenges they are facing, our family of 10,000 British farmers are supporting us to deliver fantastic quality, fresh food for our customers, so we want to do our bit to support them.

“That is why we are standing by our long-standing British sourcing commitments, introducing new initiatives to tackle the problems our agricultural sector faces, and – through our new campaign – reminding customers of the incredible food our nation’s farmers produce.“

In response to the challenges facing the farming community, M&S has written to major farming unions and Government departments over the past week.

The letters encourage the Government to address wider industry challenges around milk volumes and the supply of labour in produce, and outlines M&S’s ongoing commitments and plans to support each agricultural sector, such as dairy and beef farmers, who are facing mounting pressures as sales in the hospitality industry have plunged by almost 60 per cent.

These commitments include, in response to the closure of the hospitality industry, a continuing guarantee to a leading and fair price for milk through its Milk Pledge.

M&S will also always purchase the volume it has committed to, regardless of customer demand.

M&S says it pays its farmers more for their milk than any other major retailer and as demand for milk is increasing, M&S has been able to help grow supply from farmers, including Tim Lock, pictured, in West Sussex, who has been producing milk for M&S for 21 years and chairs the M&S Milk Pool of 44 farmers across the UK.

Tim comments: “This has been one of the most difficult periods for many dairy farmers up and down the country, as our cows will still need to be milked despite changes in customer demand and restaurant and cafe closures.

“We are fortunate to be part of the M&S Milk Pool, and knowing that we’ll always receive a fair and stable milk price gives us the confidence that we will not only pull through this challenging time, but we can continue to invest in our businesses for the years to come.”

To address pressures facing beef farmers, M&S is investing in new product development and is increasing promotions on products such as steaks to help drive increased volume for farmers.

In addition, M&S has launched a 100 per cent British meat food box as part of its new online delivery range, which includes Aberdeen Angus Beef Burgers, Beef Casserole Steak and Rump Steak.

M&S is also working hard to support its horticulture suppliers at a time when demand for flowers has fallen. Within one week, M&S worked with its long-standing tulip supplier Poplar Farm Nurseries to launch an online delivery solution to help close the gap in demand, and the retailer has this month introduced bedding plants into 200 of its Foodhalls and online.

M&S has a long-standing history of supporting British farmers, such as sourcing all of its RSPCA Assured milk from 44 farms across the UK, and 100 per cent of its beef from 5,100 British farmers which is DNA traceable back to the farm and individual animal.

Similarly, 100 per cent of M&S’s fresh pork, chicken, duck, turkey and goose comes from British farms, as well as all the free-range eggs it sells, and by June this year M&S has committed to selling 100 per cent British lamb. M&S became the first retailer to source 100 per cent British fresh strawberries and 100 per cent British asparagus in early April, and its range will continue expanding as the British seasons commence.

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