In a bid to thank its farmer suppliers for their efforts in feeding the nation, Morrisons has announced a suite of measures to help promote products to consumers.
Recognising the issues meat and fish producers are facing as a result of the food service sector closure, the supermarket has revealed plans to open summer ‘BBQ and Steak Bars’ and ‘BBQ and Seafood Bars’ in its stores from Thursday April 30.
The bars will offer a wider range of steaks and joints, fish and shellfish to customers.
The supermarket will also offer a 5 per cent shopping discount to its 2,700 farmer suppliers, with the discount card set to last until July 12 when it will be reviewed.
David Potts, chief executive officer of Morrisons, said: “This is a difficult time for the nation and it is a very difficult time for farmers and fishermen.
“We are the biggest supermarket customer for British farmers and they continue to provide very good quality British food in the face of very real challenges.
“We want to show our thanks for all their work in feeding the nation and encourage our customers to buy British food.”
This week (April 20) Marks and Spencer (M&S) wrote to UK farm unions to reiterate its ‘unwavering’ support for British producers during the pandemic.
However, in terms of dairy, managing director of foods at M&S, Stuart Machin, said while the retailer would continue to source milk from its 44 M&S Select Farms, it could not accept any more volume.
Mr Machin said: “None of our commitments to dairy farmers will change throughout this period, but I recognise there is a significant challenge in the wider industry caused by the collapse in demand from the hospitality sector.
“This is a structural problem in the market and, unfortunately, it is not possible for retail to take the additional volumes as there simply is not the demand from customers.
“I would therefore encourage Government to work with industry to address what I know are very urgent issues.
“For our own demand, I am pleased we have been able to grow our volume sales of liquid milk and, at the same time, grow the farms which supply us.”
On red meat, Mr Machin said in-store promotions had helped alleviate some issues on carcase balance.
He said: “Our cattle kill is up, with demand increased by 5 per cent since the lockdown came into force, and our investment in product innovation means our carcase balance has improved, with new products designed to help drive increased volume through our stores.
“There will be increased sales activity on steaks and M&S is featuring this meat cut in dine-in promotions going forward.”
He said M&S was also on track for 100 per cent British lamb by June this year.
Talking at Agriwebb’s digital farm walk on Wednesday April 22, Caroline Mason, head of agriculture at the Co-op, said the retailer had worked collectively with its suppliers to scale back and streamline product lines but remains committed to its British farmer suppliers.
Ms Mason said: “The Co-op, like many retailers, has seen a huge demand for mince, since it is a versatile product. However, as the weather turns towards BBQ season, we expect demand to shift to burgers and thinner steaks, which will hopefully address some of the carcase imbalance issues.
“In the next few weeks of lockdown, I envisage consumers will build their confidence and comfortability with home cooking, and try out new products.
Touching on the current dairy crisis, she spoke about Defra's support for relaxation of competition laws and the need for wider industry collaboration.
Ms Mason added: “We were the first retailer to lift product restrictions week commencing April 6 and allow people to buy as much as they require. As a retailer, we are unable to increase milk volumes as consumers are only going to drink so much milk so we are limited on that front.”