With research showing shoppers want to buy British more than before the pandemic, Morrisons has been selling thousands of food boxes stocked with home-produced food.
As the UK headed towards lockdown and customers adapted to feeding their households and coping with the pandemic, retailers had to cope with unprecedented changes in shopping behaviours.
The closure of the food service markets and reduction in exports hit British producers particularly hard.
Sophie Throup, head of agriculture, fisheries and sustainable sourcing for Morrisons, says: “Buying directly from farmers and having such long-term relationships with them, we could see we were facing into a huge problem as these markets, usually home to higher value cuts of meat, reduced.
“This and the high sales of minced beef product in stores as shoppers stocked up to feed their families was leading to carcase imbalances and we were seeing cattle prices start to crash.” With its farmers and the NFU, the retailer discussed how to help stabilise prices and create new demand.
As a result, the supermarket moved to launching steak and seafood bars by re-opening meat and fish counters which had to close at the start of the pandemic to help the supermarket focus on product availability and social distancing.
With butchers also on-hand to advise customers about cooking alternative cuts of meat, steak sales soared as a result.
Sophie adds: “Opening the counters and having price promotions to encourage customers back into eating these prime cuts, along with other similar initiatives in the industry, has helped put some value back into the farmgate beef price, which is reassuring.” JThe UK’s consumers are relying on farmers more than ever before to do what you do best and continue feeding the nation during these extraordinary times.
Just a few weeks ago, Prince Charles confirmed the national crisis had brought home how much the public relies on farmers and everyone else who works in the hundreds of jobs within the supply chain.
In addition, Morrisons expanded its range of food boxes, first launched in April to help vulnerable and self-isolating customers.
As well as two British meat boxes, the British Farming Box also includes £1 donation on every box sold to The Prince’s Countryside Fund to help Farming Help charities (the Addington Fund, FCN, ForageAid, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution).
Overall, tens of thousands of boxes in a variety of ranges from barbecue boxes to vegetarian essentials have been sold, opening new markets for produce to customers across the UK.
During the pandemic, Morrisons customers have been particularly keen to support British, according to a survey of 1,000 of them.
It found two-thirds were more likely to buy British produce than this time last year.
For chicken breast, 62 per cent said they were ‘slightly’ or ‘much more likely’ to buy British, for beef mince this was 61, milk 58, strawberries 58 and asparagus 53 per cent.
But many customers were already supportive of home-grown produce, with most participants saying they only bought British beef, chicken and milk.
Home-grown beef mince, in particular, had a strong following, with customers feeling more confident in the quality and sustainability of British produce.
Lucy Taylor, customer insight manager at Morrisons, says: “People perceive British products to be fresher because they have had to travel less far, but there is also a trust factor – people value British products.
People want to support local farmers and are keen to keep Britain going [during the pandemic] by buying British.”
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