Retailer pledges commitment to Scottish and British produce


NFU Scotland has met with Mike Coupe, who will take over the CEO role at major retailer Sainsburys in the summer.


At the meeting in Edinburgh yesterday (Tuesday, 1 April), Mr Coupe pledged the retailer’s continued commitment to grow the offering of Scottish and British products.  He outlined his desire to see closer links with Scottish producers with consideration given to contracts that would recognise costs of production.


Also on the agenda was NFU Scotland’s concerns that the current price war between major retailers could strip value out of the food chain, to the detriment of primary producers.


Speaking after the meeting, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:


“The growth of Sainsburys is a retail success story and it was of real benefit to sit down with Mike Coupe to discuss his plans for the retailer in Scotland, before he takes over the reins from Justin King in the summer.


“We certainly welcome his commitment to grow the Scottish and British offering in stores and his interest in working more closely with primary producers on the basis of contracts which account for cost of production.


“Quality and ethical sourcing are high up on the Sainsburys agenda and the company is looking to establish assurance standards to underpin that. Any proliferation in assurance schemes can only add cost for producers and retailers so it was good to hear that Sainsburys is willing to work with industry on those standards to avoid repeated inspections or duplication.


“We harbour deep concerns about the impact that the current supermarket price war could have, selling staple goods at rock bottom prices and stripping value out of the chain.  While farmers on direct supply contracts may be sheltered just now, we discussed with Mr Coupe our worries that primary producers will suffer if the price war continues long term. 


“In response, he said that the retailer had no interest in fuelling a price war that drives basic food buys to an unsustainable level.  That statement will be welcomed by Scottish producers.”