Sainsbury’s reinforces its commitment to British farming

british farmer

Sainsbury’s promise to double British sourcing is an opportunity for British food producers.

Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King has urged the British food industry to rise to the challenge of seeking new opportunities for growth, as the supermarket plans to double the amount of British food it sells by 2020.

In a speech to over 1,000 farmers, growers and suppliers at the company's annual agricultural conference, Mr King said that the UK food industry can grow for the future with confidence, despite the current economic climate, by taking advantage of increasing customer demand for home-grown food.

Chief executive Justin King said: "As part of our new 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan, we have committed to doubling sales of British food by 2020. That will mean increasing our current sales from over £4 billion to over £8 billion a year.

"This presents a great opportunity for British farmers, as Sainsbury's customers increasingly ask for more quality, British food.  Now all we need is the industry to work together to create sustainable supply chains for the future.

"In these tough economic times our country needs action to boost sustainability and create secure supply chains, so our long term commitment and investment will provide security and help the food industry plan and grow food for the future with confidence."

Sainsbury's farmers and growers have already benefitted from working with the supermarket to improve productivity and efficiency. Dairy farmers alone have saved over £10 million in the last five years thanks to improvements in animal welfare and savings in energy bills.

King added: "We're going further than any other retailer to support farmers in the Sainsbury's development groups by creating sustainable, resilient supply chains. So far we've invested over £30 million which includes funding for vet visits, environmental assessments, advice and new IT equipment. We will keep investing in British farming to support the economy and boost farm productivity, creating significant savings on our sustainability journey to 2020."

The Sainsbury's 'Farm for Life' conference took place at the BBC's Good Food Show at the NEC in Birmingham on Wednesday 23 November and is the largest event of its kind to be held by a major retailer. In addition to hearing from Sainsbury's, attendees also heard from farmers and growers about their progress in the Sainsbury's Development Groups, now established across beef, lamb, pork, eggs, chicken, milk, cheese, grain and produce.

The Director of Sainsbury's brand, Judith Batchelar, also announced a series of awards, recognising those farmers who had made significant progress in reducing carbon emissions or improving animal welfare.

Director of Sainsbury's brand, Judith Batchelar, said: "The breadth and structure of our Development Groups goes further than any other retailer and we are really proud today to host the biggest ever farmers conference. Four of our farmers gave great presentations on the work they've been doing in collaboration with us - whether it's reducing fuel or water consumption, using greener energy sources, or introducing new practices to boost welfare.

"Small changes on farms can lead to massive savings along the line, so today we're celebrating our farmers' success and looking forward to the future."

Sainsbury's lamb farmer Jake Freestone updated the audience on his work to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiency. He said: "Sainsbury's not only support new farming initiatives but they provide the infrastructure and advice I need to improve efficiency. I've been a member of the Lamb Development Group since the start, and thanks to the carbon footprinting initiative I've been able to introduced new grass types, which I hope will lead to my lambs next year finishing quicker and therefore reducing my production costs. This would not have been possible without Sainsbury's support and I'm very proud to work with a supermarket with such a strong commitment to quality British food."

Notes to editors

  • 'Sourcing with Integrity' is central to Sainsbury's ability to deliver great products at fair prices. It is committed to offering products that are better for customers and for the environment, in away that is also better for the animals, farmers and producers involved in their production.
  • Sainsbury's is also an industry leader in the sale of British produce, spending over £4 billion each year with its UK suppliers. As part of the 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan we will double the amount of British food we sell.
  • Sainsbury's is committed to helping customers Live Well For Less. We do this by showing customers how they can Live Well - with great quality and standards - For Less - less money than you thought, with less hassle and less impact on the environment. 

Best for British


  • 100% of our fresh chicken is British.
  • 100% of our whole eggs are British.
  • 100% of sausages and ham are made with British meat.
  • We sell British lamb when best in season.  Our Taste the Difference, Organic & Counter lamb is 100% British all year round.
  • We are the largest buyer of Welsh lamb - over 1 million Welsh lambs.
  • We also support Welsh Young Farmers, to encourage more young farmers into the industry. We pay them a 10p/kg premium for their lamb and a donation towards the Young Farmers organisation.
  • Dairy - all our milk (fresh and UHT), cream, butter, block cheddar are made with British milk (other than for reasons of provenance or authenticity, e.g. Irish Wexford, Normandy butter).

Animal welfare

  • Won the RSPCA Good Business Award 2010 for most progress out of all UK supermarkets on welfare.
  • Won the RSPCA Good Business Award 2011 for Excellence in Customer Communication.
  • Awarded Best Volume Supermarket in 2010 and 2011 by Compassion in World Farming.
  • Awarded Good Calf Commendation in 2011 recognising our utilisation of dairy bulls through our bull beef and veal schemes.

Freedom Food

  • Largest retailer of Freedom Food products in the UK.
  • We sell 62% of all Freedom Food food sold in the UK, meeting RSPCA welfare standards.
  • Over £315 million Freedom Food sales in last year.
  • We sell 310 lines - the widest range of Freedom Food products, including chicken, turkey, duck, pork, sausages, veal, eggs and salmon.
  • We sell more Freedom Food chicken than the combined total of all other retailers.
  • 18% of our fresh chicken sales are Freedom Food birds.
  • 10 million birds reared to RSPCA standards of welfare.

Cage-free hens

  • First major supermarket to source all our whole eggs from cage-free hens (February 2009).
  • We sell 600 million eggs per year.
  • The move has improved the lives of 800,000 birds.
  • Future commitment: To move all eggs used as an ingredient to cage-free by 2012. Global impact - eggs are used in over 1,600 of our products, sourced from 500 suppliers from 50 countries.

Woodland chicken and eggs

  • We are the only retailer to promote tree cover for birds through our Woodland eggs and chicken.
  • We sell over 75 million Woodland eggs per year and 4.9 million Woodland chickens per year.
  • Improving the welfare of over 1.3 million birds.
  • Launch of Woodland turkey this Christmas will affect the lives of 100,000 birds.
  • For every Woodland product sold we make a donation to the Woodland Trust to support tree planting.
  • Through sales of Woodland chicken, eggs and turkeys we will have donated almost £1 million to the Woodland Trust, and led to planting of over 380,000 trees.
  • The sales support free sapling kits for schools through our Active Kids scheme.
  • This autumn 300,000 children will have the opportunity to plant a tree as a result.


  • 40% of the fruit and vegetable we sell are British by value.
  • 65% of the vegetables we sell are British by value.
  • We sell more British varieties of apples and pears than any other retailer.



About the article

  • Posted on: 24 November 2011
  • Type of article: Press release


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