Business in the Community and the IGD have published
a best practice guide on local suppliers, endorsed and sponsored
by the Prince of Wales, in which Tesco features:
The arrival of the first potatoes of the new
season is a landmark in the world of fresh produce each year.
Usually sourced from places with more favourable climates than
we experience in the UK, this year the first new potatoes on sale
in Tesco Stores in south-west England came from Cornwall.
Sourcing produce from farms within the same
area as each of their stores has been one of Tesco's priorities
for several years in response to the preference of their customers
to support local producers and also to reduce the distances which
produce travels between farm and shopping basket.
In the West Country Tesco's "Locally Grown"
marketing initiative has been applied particularly successfully
to fresh potatoes through close co-operation between the supermarket
itself, its biggest supplier of fresh potatoes, Branston Potatoes,
and Cornish potato grower Mark Rowe.
Branston has packhouses which supply Tesco in
Lincolnshire, Somerset and Tayside, all of them providing comprehensive
integrated packing, storage, agronomy and marketing services.
Each packhouse supports a number of Producers Groups which benefit
from specialist support and advice on all aspects of growing and
marketing their crop.
Five years ago Mark Rowe of Lower Nansole Farm,
Helston, joined the South-West Producer Group, having made the
strategic decision to grow high-quality potatoes and sell through
Branston to Tesco. He previously sold his crop mainly to wholesalers.
Over the last five years he has supplied increasing volumes to
Tesco year on year and now grows 500 acres, most of which goes
to the supermarkets Chepstow distribution centre, serving stores
in South-West England and South Wales.
In the past the majority of the first early
potatoes have been sourced by Tesco from Jersey, Cyprus, Portugal
or Majorca. This year, mainly as a result of the expansion of
the potato area of Lower Nansole Farm, Tesco stores in the South-West
chose to stock first early potatoes from Cornwall as soon as they
became available. The occasion was marked with in-store promotions,
including a blind "taste challenge" at which the home-grown
produce was clearly preferred to the competitorsto the
delight of everyone involved in the South-West.
Mr Rowe was involved in these promotions and
welcomed the opportunity to get close to consumers in this way.
The farm's ability to supply the required quality
in this volume is the result of a close relationship between grower,
packer and supermarket. Confident in Mr Rowe's commitment and
ability, Tesco and Branston have committed themselves to take
increasing tonnages from Lower Nansole Farm. In turn, Mr Rowe
has adapted growing techniquesin particular, to comply
with Tesco's "Natures Choice" growing protocoland
made substantial investments in field machinery, storage facilities,
packing equipment and other aspects of his business.
A recent development has seen the start of on-farm
packing, which has the advantage of reducing "food miles"
and offering the potential of fresher potatoes in the local stores.
This new development is particularly welcomed by Mr Rowe as it
enables him to provide work for local people in an area of above
As the biggest supplier of fresh potatoes to
Tesco, Branston has been able to keep growers such as Mr Rowe
in touch with the supermarket's plans to support British agriculture
and drive forward its commitment to source local produce for local
consumers where possible. Through Branston's agronomy service
growers are also kept abreast of the latest developments in areas
such as irrigation, pest control and storage techniques. According
to Mr Rowe, this knowledge and experience have been essential
in enabling him to meet Tesco's requirements. Copies available
from Business in the Community ISBN 189804497X.