I am responsible for all our own brand products and help make Fairtrade part of the nation's everyday shopping habits.
In these difficult economic times, there is a tendency for food retailers to be all doom and gloom - family budgets are under pressure, people have to work harder and think more carefully to make their money go further. Yet at Sainsbury’s, we’ve seen that having to think more carefully and thoughtfully about household spending, especially on food, has triggered a set of new, positive shopping behaviours across all socio-economic groups.
At Sainsbury’s we’ve taken the decision to radically change our approach to buying British fruit and vegetables as a result of this year’s unseasonal weather.
At Sainsbury’s we believe that our values, as well as great quality food, play a big part in making us different. Our customers are trying to make their weekly budgets go further but they still haven’t let go of their aspirations. They still want products they can trust and they expect us to continue doing the right thing like treating our suppliers fairly and helping to make a difference in producer communities.
Earlier this year in January, I had the pleasure of travelling to St. Lucia with Justin King and Harriet Lamb to visit our Fairtrade banana suppliers. Over five amazing days we were able to see first hand the difference that Fairtrade and Sainsbury's has made to the local community on St. Lucia, especially after the destruction brought about by hurricane Thomas. I wanted to share some of my impressions and photos from that trip with you here.
Autumn has firmly made its mark, with leaves on the ground and the evenings drawing in, which means our instinct to hibernate will kick in. One key shift is that our customers switch to buying ingredients for a traditional Sunday roast.
The challenges facing the food industry are well known. From tackling the variable weather to feeding a growing population, we need to think about how we can innovate and adopt new ways of doing things.
The Isle of Wight is one of the sunniest places in the British Isles (except when our Tomato Product Technologist took a holiday there last June).
There is no doubt that food waste in the home is an issue, and why we’re focused on helping our customers to waste less.
Customer demand for regional and local products continues to grow, especially as customers wish to support their local economy in the current economic climate. Our regional teams, with buying offices in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, continue to look for the best regional products from local suppliers.
Fairtrade Foundation kicks off their ‘Great British Fairness Debate’ today to celebrate 20 years of Fairtrade. So, over the next couple of weeks they want to highlight that when people make a conscious effort to buy Fairtrade products, like coffee, it empowers the coffee bean farmers to get a fair price for what they grow.
I believe inspiring young women to consider careers in the food industry is an important part of my role as an Every Women in Retail Ambassador - especially as Sainsbury’s is a Times Top 50 Employer for Women.
Did you know that we have over 500 Fairtrade Ambassadors spread across our stores in the UK? They tell people in their local communities about Fairtrade and our ongoing commitment to sourcing with integrity. This happens throughout the year - but especially during Fairtrade Fortnight from 25 February to 10 March.
At Sainsbury’s, we are proud that since 2007, 100% of our bananas are Fairtrade. As our customers tuck into a delicious piece of fruit, they know it’s not just good for them but also for the people growing those bananas.
Apparently nine. Last week I embarked on a challenge in Tanzania with eight other business women to do just that, and built 90 beehives within a remote area in Nou Forest. In support of Farm Africa, the charity that works to end hunger in eastern Africa, we hope the hives will be used to kick-start profitable and sustainable honey farming businesses for the area.
As the world's largest retailer of Fairtrade products, we are helping to make Fairtrade part of the nation's everyday shopping habits. Buying Fairtrade-certified products ensures that marginalised producers in developing countries are given a guaranteed minimum price and Fairtrade premium to support them all year round, which is especially important when market prices fall. Fairtrade gives producers a secure income that allows them to plan better for a sustainable future.
We’ve been asked over recent weeks and months if we sell ‘ugly’ fruit and veg. Firstly I don’t think any of our produce is less appealing than any other, but the questions have prompted me to think about the times when we have decided to reduce the specification on the fresh produce we source so we can make the most of the crop when we’re hit with unseasonal weather.
When the Chancellor released the budget most eyes were probably drawn to the duty freeze on fuel, or even the newly shaped £1 coin. However, my attention turned to the news that £12 million is being put into a Centre for Agricultural Informatics and Sustainability Metrics. What a fantastic result for driving innovation and enabling the use of data science to build a more productive and sustainable food industry.
Our Sustainability Plan and our values underpin all the work we undertake at Sainsbury’s. That’s why we’re proud of our long history in sustainable sourcing, and of our position as the UK’s leading retailer of sustainable fish. We’ve led the retail sector in respect to Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certifications for last six years, while consistently being voted their ‘Supermarket of the Year’ since 2014.