Somerfield results - Local Economies

Indicator 4.1 View criteria

Issue: Support for the local economy

Indicator: Company policy on sourcing food 'locally'and 'locality' foods

Somerfield does have a written corporate policy on sourcing local and locality products, although details were not provided. Somerfield does not have targets for their sourcing of local and locality foods, nor do they allocate a proportion of their overall promotions budget for local and locality foods. However the company has said that it is already stocking local products and is committed to increasing the range and variety of locally and regionally produced foods in its stores.

Somerfield store managers do have discretion to identify potential local or locality products that they wish to be stocked in their stores, but details were not provided.

Somerfield also has a UK First buying policy that includes red meat, apples, pears, dairy and organics. Their buyers are tasked to purchase as much UK produce as possible consistent with quality, availability and price.

Indicator 4.2 View criteria

Issue: Support for the local economy

Indicator: Local and regional sourcing and promotion

Somerfield could not provide data on the percentages of foods sourced and sold as local or locality foods, as they only have data on the numbers of food lines. Data on number of food lines was not provided. According to their website and recent articles, across the country Somerfield sells more than 2000 local products in its stores.

Promotion of local/locality foods during 2002/03 was limited to placing articles in staff/consumer magazines, and did not involve the wide range of other methods available to raise consumer awareness of and interest in these food products.

Somerfield do not have dedicated staff responsible for sourcing local and locality foods.


Indicator 4.3 View criteria

Issue: Support for the local economy

Indicator: Company policy on sourcing food 'locally' and 'locality' foods – store shelf survey

A store shelf survey of local and locality foods stocked by retailers - focusing on apples, potatoes, fresh milk, pre-packed cheese, fresh beef and fresh lamb - was conducted by Sustain and the NFWI. The final survey sample consisted of just 6 stores. This sample was smaller than desired, and had a more limited geographical coverage than desired, thereby reducing the extent to which the store survey findings can be taken as representative of the retailer’s overall performance in terms of local sourcing.

Bearing these limitations in mind, the survey revealed that no local apples, local potatoes or local milk were stocked. However 50% of the Somerfield stores surveyed stocked local cheeses, 32% stocked local beef and 17% stocked local lamb. Overall therefore Somerfield performed better on stocking of local foods than the other two participating retailers.

The average number of different varieties of these local foods in stores that stocked them was 2.5 local cheeses, 3 local beef varieties and 1.5 lamb varieties. The stocking levels for locality foods were varied but better, with 33% of stores stocking locality apples, 33% stocking locality milk, 83% stocking locality cheeses, 83% stocking locality beef, and 67% stocking locality lamb. None of the stores surveyed stocked locality potatoes. The average number of different varieties of the locality foods stocked varied. On average there were 1.5 varieties of locality apples per store, 2.5 varieties of locality milks, 5.3 varieties of locality cheese, 3.25 varieties of locality beef, and 3.5 varieties of locality lamb, in those stores that stocked any at all.

The store surveyed confirmed the information provided in the questionnaire regarding in-store promotion – no leaflets or special displays on local foods were found in any store.

Somerfield’S policy on stocking local foods was to some extent supported by the shelf survey findings for cheese, beef and lamb, but not for apples, potatoes or milk. Stocking of locality foods was relatively good.

Overall commentary and examples of good practice

Somerfield does have written policies on local and locality foods, and on buying ‘UK First’ for beef, apples and pears, dairy products and organics. However, specific targets for sourcing local and locality foods are not set, no specific budget is allocated to promote these foods to consumers, and there are no staff with a dedicated responsibility for the sourcing of local and locality foods. The lack of data provided on local and locality foods sourced in 2003 is reflected in the relatively low overall score.

More detailed information is available from Somerfield’s website and recent in-house magazine articles. These state that Somerfield defines ‘local’ foods as those products that are likely to be produced by small family businesses or producers within 30 miles of the store, such as cheeses, preserves, biscuits and bread. They explain that, across the country, Somerfield is committed to increasing the range and variety of locally and regionally produced foods in its stores, and already sells more than 2000 local products that enable customers to support producers in their own areas. Somerfield sources many of these products from small producers and local farms, working with over 450 small suppliers running family businesses selling everything from local jams and bottled water to fresh cakes and traditional cheeses. Specific examples of locality products stocked in Somerfield stores include Cotswold Lamb, West Country Beef and West Country Fish. Somerfield states that it plans to increase the availability of fresh foods such as regional meats, fresh fruit and vegetables and breads.

Somerfield has experimented with an innovative labelling system for local produce, but this has been put on hold for now and the label has not been applied to any products.

Examples of good practice

Areas for improvement


Supermarket comments

We will review the findings to identify the best way forward.


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