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Supermarkets and sustainability news

10 May 2004
Taking on the Goliaths

Milton Keynes' food-producing Davids are taking on the supermarket Goliaths. Thirty-five of them within a seven-mile radius have joined Anthony Davison's new food revolution.

This aims to help consumers buy more fresh, locally-made, produce. His BigBarn website's customers include pick-your-own strawberries in Moulsoe, pork and lamb from Woburn, and Beachampton's organic farm shop. He said: "Since all the food scares, people want to know exactly what they're buying, where it comes from and how it's produced. Our website gives consumers opportunities to buy meat, game, fish, fruit and vegetables, cheese and dairy products, drink, bakers' products and nursery plants direct from the producers."

Source: Serious About News

2:43:08 PM   

Strongarm supermarkets 'put suppliers in fear'

A terrifying picture of the power Tesco and other British supermarkets wield over their suppliers is painted in Sold Out: The True Cost of Supermarket Shopping by William Young.

The book accuses Tesco of paying its suppliers the lowest prices of any supermarket in Britain. And it accuses Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Safeway of bullying actions against suppliers and farmers that go "way beyond efficient business practices".

Source: Sunday Business Post

2:39:56 PM   

Job cuts in Somerfield shake-up

The supermarket chain Somerfield has announced plans to drop its Kwik Save brand in Scotland with the loss of about 400 jobs. The company said 29 of the Kwik Save stores will be renamed Somerfield outlets and a further 22 will be closed by the end of the year.

Source: BBC

2:32:18 PM   

£2.5m pledge to help UK farmers

Ministers have pledged the first instalment of a planned £2.5 million five-year grant to boost efforts to help farmers work together to get more competitive and profitable.

English Farming and Food Partnerships (EFFP), which helps to promote collaboration and cooperation between farmers and the rest of the food chain, will get £500,000 this year with the government intending to provide funding at the same level in each of the next four years.

Defra's new grant will pay for a range of activities to be agreed between Ministers and EFFP.

Source: defra, EFFP

2:30:54 PM   

Packaging waste not being recycled

New government figures reveal that only 14.5 per cent of household waste in England was recycled in 2002/3. Food and beverage packaging makes up the bulk of this waste.

"The government is clearly not doing enough to tackle the UK's waste crisis and seems set to miss its target of recycling a quarter of household waste by 2005. Increasing amounts of waste are being generated, and far too little is recycled," said Clare Wilton, waste campaigner for UK pressure group Friends of the Earth.

Source: Food production daily

2:27:33 PM   

Wal-Mart begins supply chain revolution

Wal-Mart and eight product manufacturers have begun testing electronic product codes, or EPCs, at select Supercentres in the US. If successful, the concept will change forever the manner in which manufacturers and retailers operate.

"This pilot is the next step in Wal-Mart's addition of radio frequency identification, also known as RFID, to improve product availability for Wal-Mart customers" said Linda Dillman, executive vice president and Chief Information Officer.

Some manufacturers continue to harbour reservations about RFID, but with retail giants such as Wal-Mart calling the shots it seems likely that suppliers will have little option but to implement.

Source: Food and Drink Europe

2:22:25 PM   

Taking the pain out of going green

Reward and recognition could be a more effective way of changing people's behaviour to green, rather than punishing and taxing them for not being environmentally friendly, says a new report by the National Consumer Council (NCC) and the New Economics Foundation (NEF).

The report, 'Carrots not sticks: the possibilities of a sustainable consumption reward card for the UK' [pdf], highlights a creative initiative that will use the principles of a loyalty card to reward sustainable behaviour, raise awareness, and lead consumers to demand more green goods and services.

Ed Mayo, Chief Executive at the NCC says: "If we want to reduce waste, cut greenhouse-gas emissions and clean up energy production, we are going to have to change our behaviour.

"More than half of household waste is supermarket packaging, which consumers are obliged to accept. The problem is that people's efforts are not rewarded in any way. Nor are they recognised. Our research shows that what people want is carrots, not sticks.

"We would like to see the UK adopt a scheme for an NU smart card - like the one in Holland. The idea is quite simple. Consumers get points for separating waste and buying sustainable products such as energy-efficient, fair-trade goods, bicycles, repairs and second-hand goods."

Source: National Consumer Council

2:06:57 PM   

Fairtrade produce comes to the US

Bananas with "Fair Trade Certified" stickers represent the new front of an international effort to help first-world consumers improve the living standards of the third-world farmers who grow much of their food.

Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate are well established in European markets, and have been available in the US at premium prices since 1999. Fair Trade bananas and pineapples are already available, and grapes, mangoes and orange juice are in the pipeline.

Source: New York Times

2:00:03 PM   

What's really in your food

It may look tasty but today's packaged food is a chemical cocktail of additives, fats and sugars, says Felicity Lawrence in her book Not on the Label.

Further reading: What's really in your food, Our daily bread, Bugs, Sweat and Fears

Source: Times, Guardian

1:49:49 PM   

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