NFU Scotland’s directors are to spend time examining the Scottish food chain all the way from the farm to the shop shelf.

While the Union’s board members are well aware of what happens at farm business level, they will now be taking time out to have a look at other parts of the chain including distribution and supermarket shelves.

The decision to get more involved in the chain follows the lead set by President Nigel Miller who visited six major supermarket stores several weeks ago to view how each was managing its fresh lamb categories. Given the value that the President got from that ‘secret shopper’ experience, Board members are now keen to follow up.

At the Highland Show this week, NFU Scotland met with five of the major retailers – Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Tesco – at which our plans to have members look more closely at the way distribution centres and stores operate were discussed.

Closer engagement between members and retailers also fits with the recent appointment of Wendy Fleming, as NFU Scotland’s first Food Chain Relationships Manager. 

Speaking at the Highland Show, NFU Scotland Vice President John Picken said:

"Supermarkets are the major customer for the majority of produce that originates on Scottish farms. Many of our members have an appreciation of how the fruits of their labour arrive on a shop shelf but refreshing the memory on how the modern day food chain operates will be very useful.

"Initial discussions have seen several retailers extend the offer to facilitate visits by board members and I am sure that those retailers we met at the Highland will see benefit in broadening our knowledge on issues like distribution, category management, shelf space, promotions and branding.

"Our President got tremendous value from spending a day looking at how various stores were dealing with lamb on their shelves a few weeks ago, when the Scotch lamb season was in its early stages. Rolling that out across the wide range of meat, dairy, eggs, fruit and veg our members are producing will not only aid our understanding but will help improve the dialogue that we already have with our key customers

"With the Groceries Supply Code of Practice now in place and legislation to create a retailer adjudicator making its way though Westminster, the time is right for NFUS to step up its engagement with supermarkets. The creation of a staff position solely to manage our supply chain relationships is a clear signal of how committed we are to establishing better links between our members and those who process and sell the bulk of their produce." Ends


Date Published:

News Article No.: 63/12

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