Unions welcomed the move to increase the amount of food and drink it buys from British suppliers by £3.5bn a year within the next five years
Industry leaders have welcomed a commitment from discount retailer Aldi to spend an extra £3.5 billion with British suppliers by 2025 as it continues its rapid expansion across the UK.
The public have shown increased support for domestic produce throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Giles Hurley, chief executive at Aldi UK, said they were expecting significant sales growth in 2021 as it aimed for 1,200 stores by 2025. The retailer announced record Christmas sales this year.
Unions said Aldi was already a ’big supporter of British agriculture’.
AHDB retail insight manager Kim Malley said Aldi would be hoping to increase its market share by pledging to buy more British, investing in new and upgraded stores and expanding click and collect.
“Shoppers claim British is becoming more important to them and the overall impression of British agriculture has increased in 2020, with COVID really dialling up the local element – so this is the best time to start talking about it.
"The thing to remember, which will be an advantage for Aldi, is when it actually comes to purchasing food products, practical factors such as price, convenience and taste become more important."
She added price was key and Aldi already had an advantage in this area but coupling this with British could be ’really powerful’.
“One area Aldi has a current disadvantage in is online shopping. This COVID trend has accelerated and does not look to be slowing," she added.
"Therefore to really win in the grocery space Aldi needs to think about how it can increase its presence online.”
An NFU spokesperson said: “It’s positive news that Aldi is making further commitments to invest in the UK supply chain, a pledge which will help British food and farming businesses to grow.
“Aldi is already a big supporter of British agriculture, spending over £8 billion with British suppliers in 2019 and sourcing core ranges of fresh meat, milk and eggs from Britain.”
NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said throughout the pandemic they had engaged with every major retailer, urging them to continue supporting Scottish farmers.
"That has seen welcome pledges from several retailers, including Aldi, of a greater commitment to sourcing home produce," he said.
“Aldi’s support for Scottish red meat, pork and chicken has seen the retailer perform exceptionally well whenever NFUS has undertaken shelfwatch surveys in Scottish supermarkets.
"In addition to the latest announcement on substantially growing the value of UK produce in its stores, Aldi committed in July 2020 to increase the number of Scottish products in store from 450 to 500 by 2022. That commitment is something that Scottish consumers will value."
He added Scotland’s farmers and crofters had pledged to do all they could to ’ensure shelves were stocked with fresh, tasty, sustainably-produced local food and drink’ throughout the pandemic.
"The provenance behind Scottish produce is a story that many imported foods, often produced at a high environmental cost and accounting for thousands of food miles, do not share.
“As a result, we have seen unprecedented levels of support for home produced food in the past year and huge backing from the public for our high standards of production, whether it be meat, dairy, eggs, fruit or veg.”