THE CO-OPERATIVE has announced that it will give a £5m boost to British farmers who supply its own-brand fresh meat, poultry and milk.
The premiums will go to members of The Co-operative’s farming groups which were launched in order to back British farmers and agriculture, and to cement relationships with producers, deliver a continued investment in quality and provide shoppers with a more consistent and transparent supply chain.
The five protein farming groups, which launched in June 2013, are based on five pillars of achievement: “health, welfare and quality”, “Co-operative brand”, “sustainability”, “environmental” and “ethical and training” - two of which are mandatory.
All the farms need to meet strict and sustained “health, welfare and quality” standards for the first pillar, and also attend events with other farmers and representatives from The Co-operative, to discuss and exchange best practice, as part of the “Co-operative brand” pillar. Farms that meet these two mandatory pillars are classed as “Bronze” farms.
The further three pillars represent sustainability (which includes alternative energy and energy conservation), the environment (including carbon footprint self-assessments) and ethical and training (which includes apprenticeships and memberships to professional bodies, such as the PIPR). Farms need to meet four pillars to secure silver standard and all five to achieve gold.
Almost 10% (55 farms out of 599) of the five protein farming group farms have progressed through the pillars to achieve “silver” or “gold” status, since it launched last year. They, along with the dairy group, which launched in 2011 and now includes 207 farms, will share £4,928,627 in premium payments.
Steve Murrells, Chief Executive – Food Retail, The Co-operative Group, said: “The Co-operative has a long history of supporting the UK’s farming industry, and is committed to backing British farmers by continuing to work closely with them to drive quality, consistency and value. Our farming groups initiative has been a resounding success and these farmers, who are just as passionate about British meat, poultry and milk as we are, and are committed to our standards for quality, health and welfare, are starting to reap their just rewards.”
“The farming groups are also improving and demonstrating best practice, whilst also delivering profitable returns for farmers and high quality, traceable, fresh British meat, poultry and milk for our customers.”
Footprint has already urged the foodservice supply chain to back British agriculture in their Buy British, Boost Britain campaign launched earlier this year. To find out more about how you can get involved or to make a pledge please contact our team on [email protected].