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  • Samantha Steadman

Homegrown Harmony: Grocers Championing Local British Suppliers

Updated: Apr 5

In the wake of Brexit and rising import costs, consumers are increasingly craving connections to the origins of their food and desire to support local communities. Grocers across the country are stepping up to the plate by championing local British suppliers in a movement throughout the aisles of British supermarkets that celebrates the best of homegrown produce. In this blog, we'll explore the reasons behind the resurgence of appreciation for British produce, the impact on local farmers, and the delicious benefits enjoyed by consumers, forging a path towards a more sustainable and connected food future.

New Border Control Regulations

New regulations introduced to address Brexit border control have caused concerns that they may lead to shortages of food and fresh flowers imported from the EU and also raise prices across the board.[1] The measures introduced, including the necessity to have a health certificate on plant and animal products classified as a “medium” risk, are designed to protect biosecurity but are looking to add up to 17% to shipping costs and cost the industry around £330million. The inspection and potential for faulty paperwork could also cause delays and derail supply chains that rely on a fast turnaround of goods. The Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs announced the physical checks for medium risk produce, originally giving a launch date of October – however this was then retracted, giving only 3 months notice of the implementation. This last minute change has led to criticism from the trade body Institute of Export and International Trade. However, a spokesperson for the government has defended the move stating, “We are committed to delivering the most advanced border in the world. The Border Target Operating Model is key to delivering this, protecting the UK’s biosecurity from potentially harmful pests and diseases and maintaining trust in our exports. We are taking a phased approach – including initially not requiring pre-notification and inspections for EU medium-risk fruit and vegetables and other medium-risk goods – to support businesses and ensure the efficient trade is maintained between the EU and Great Britain.”

Support For British Growers and Suppliers

In a bid to support growers across the UK and keep British produce on the shelves, supermarket giant Tesco is temporarily accepting smaller vegetables to sell to help farmers hit by recent storms and flooding[2]. Many growers across the country have been affected by the heavy rainfall and flooding since October, and Tesco accepting more of their crop means they avoid having to sell these at much lower prices on the open market. Tesco Fresh Produce and Horticulture Director Tom Mackintosh has said of the decision, “By accepting slightly smaller sprouts, cauliflower, cabbages and leeks, we can support the fresh produce industry while ensuring that customers are able to continue to buy British winter vegetables.” This support of the local growing industry also means reducing the risk of potential food shortages with imports from outside the UK. Martin Emmet from the NFU stated, “We have no expectations of shortages currently, but it remains important that we make the best of what’s available with supermarkets offering flexibility to growers when it comes to crop specification. In doing so the food chain from farm to plate will avoid unnecessary food waste.”

Aldi has also doubled down on their support of British suppliers spending an additional £1.3bn with them in 2023, calling them the “lifeblood” of its business.[3] British suppliers and growers now provide more than ¾ of all items in Aldi stores and they work with around 5000 suppliers across the UK having a dedicated “Best of British” section on their website. The supermarket has been awarded “Best Supermarket” in the annual Groceries Code Adjudicator (GSCOP) survey for conducting relationships fairly and in good faith for the past 10 years. Julie Ashfield, Aldi UK Managing Director Of Buying said, “Longstanding relationships with suppliers are at the heart of our success and we are proud to work with so many British suppliers, helping to bolster job opportunities and investment in the UK supply chain.” Fellow discounter, Lidl, also revealed it was investing over £70m to move its British root vegetable suppliers to new long-term contracts and has made a commitment to “Backing British”, and Morrisons were the first UK retailer to offer a dedicated ‘Buy British’ section last year.

As we bring this blog to a close, it’s evident that the rise of support for homegrown produce both signals a shift in shopper preferences and marks a vital step towards fostering sustainable grocery practices and preserving the essence of British culinary traditions. With supermarkets championing and supporting local suppliers, the bond created between the two fosters a harmonious system where culture, environmental sustainability and local economic growth can thrive. The collective efforts of retailers, local suppliers and consumers can foster a sustainable food chain for the nation and fortify the livelihoods of local supporters and provide the groundwork for local business growth. The benefits of this collaboration extend beyond commerce, providing a shopping environment where consumers are able to actively participate in the preservation of British farming and food production along with the flavours and traditions that define the British heritage.


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