Indicator 4.2

Issue: Support for the local economy

Indicator: Local and regional sourcing and promotion

This indicator seeks to give some indication of the degree to which the supermarkets succeeded in putting their policies into practice during the last financial year. Recent surveys conducted by other organisations provide some useful insights into the current situation at supermarket head office and store levels. Some of their findings on supermarket performance with regard to local food sourcing are presented below. These examples indicate that the awareness of local food as an issue exists, but that there is a long way to go before it becomes an everyday component of supermarket food supply.

When Friends of the Earth surveyed the major UK supermarkets across the country in the autumn of 2001 to find out where their apples and pears were sourced, they discovered that most UK supermarkets obtain the majority of these fruit from abroad. This was in spite of a bumper British harvest of apples that year. The survey found that even less of the organic fruit was home-grown.[xxvii]

A survey of supermarkets in Nottingham carried out by Nottingham Friends of the Earth published in June 2002 found that most supermarkets seemed to regard 'local' as meaning 'British' or 'produced in the UK'. Few actually source produce locally (from within 30 miles or even from within the region) except on occasion for certain speciality items such as Melton Mowbray pies. [xxviii]

What supermarkets could do on this issue

Overall the ideal company would have a high percentage of goods sourced locally and regionally compared to nationally and imported. It would be continuously seeking to increase that percentage by developing new lines and delivery operations with producers and undertaking market research on the products in demand. Nationally there would be several staff dedicated to developing local and regional brands. There would be special provision for the needs of 'small and developing' suppliers.

The supermarket would have a code of practice for promotion of regional/local food products and this would be available for customers to read and comment on. Each store would have the opportunity and resources to run regional/local promotions each year, based on local knowledge of available produce. Information would be provided about buying produce at its seasonal best and on the impacts of buying imported produce. The store would also ensure that its own promotions did not undermine the viability of local produce in local stores and outlets, for instance, by undercutting prices.

How this indicator will be measured

This indicator seeks to enable monitoring of supermarkets' progress in this area over the next five years. Retailers will be asked to provide information on the percentage of all food lines sourced as ‘local’ to the store, and the percentage of all food lines which were ‘locality’ foods from UK regions. They will be asked about their promotions for 'local' and 'locality' foods, and about the number of their staff that are responsible for helping the company and individual stores to source 'local' and 'locality' foods.


[xxvii] Friends of the Earth press release, November 2001.

[xxviii] Report on a Survey of Local Food in Supermarkets in Nottingham, Nottingham Friends of the Earth, June 2002, by Thomas Dawson.


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