Co-op to support British produce with £1.5bn investment

The Co-operative has today announced a £1.5bn investment over three years to source all its own brand produce from British farmers.

The Co-operative Food: pledging to invest £1.5bn in sourcing British produce
The Co-operative Food: pledging to invest £1.5bn in sourcing British produce

The retailer has published a new report, Born and Bred, which highlights its commitment to farmers and a £1.5bn investment in sourcing British produce for its own label ranges.

The report found 90% of shoppers wanted supermarkets to sell more food from British farms and 81% of British farmers believe retailers should sell British meat and poultry. 73% had more confidence in British sourced food.

In response to the findings, the Co-op has pledged to aim to source 100% British products for all its own brand meat, poultry, produce and dairy products, with the exception of continental meat and ingredients such as chorizo, New Zealand lamb and Danish bacon. Currently, 63% of all proteins are already British sourced at the retailer and all milk is already sourced from the UK.

Progress towards the goal will be reported annually and it will also adopt a ‘transparent’ approach to its marketing of UK food, clearly labelling where something is British produced.

"At the heart of our pledge is a commitment to be open and honest about where the food we sell comes from and to ensure that is it marketed and promoted in a fair and transparent way," said CEO Steve Murrells.

"Trust in retailers has been dented in recent years and we hope our openness about where we source our meat, poultry and produce will encourage more retailers to follow suit.

He added: "Shoppers want to know about the origin of their products and if supermarkets import meat for use in products it is important that, as well as being identified on product labelling, in-store marketing should not seek to unwittingly mislead. Backing British must mean more than just rolling out the bunting."

The move was welcomed by the National Farmers Union and the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss.