Last week, despite the challenging economic climate and continuing consumer uncertainty, we announced our 29th consecutive quarter of growth at Sainsbury’s. Underpinning that performance is the consistent market-beating growth of our fresh food offer.
Since we started trading 143 years ago our unrelenting focus has been on great quality fresh food aligned with outstanding customer service. That heritage continues to the present day, which is why customers rate us best for great tasting food (Ipsos-Mori), and why we are growing market share on fresh food ahead of our competitors. In fact, £1 in every £5 spent on fresh fruit and vegetables in the UK is spent at Sainsbury's - something we are all hugely proud of.
Getting our offer right on fresh food is key to success across the board, and really differentiates Sainsbury's in the marketplace. Our annual investment in fresh food increased to £85m last year, and we work closely with our farmers, growers and colleagues to constantly improve our fresh food offer to customers. Let me give you just a couple of examples - we are faster to market on Jersey Royal potatoes and the only major retailer to wash and pack the potatoes on the island, allowing us to get them into stores faster - and fresher - than other major retailers. Also, colleagues play a crucial role in our fresh food offer: in the last year 18,000 colleagues who work on our meat, fish, hot food and deli counters and in-store cafes and bakeries received City & Guilds accredited training in our Great Food and Bakery Colleges. The training they receive at the Colleges has achieved the coveted 'Gold' standard from Investors in People, a first for a food retailer.
Our customers trust us to care about the things they care about so they can shop safe in the knowledge that we put ethical, animal welfare and environmental issues at the top of our sourcing agenda. For example, we are the UK's largest retailer of Marine Stewardship Council certified fish and the majority of our fish comes from British day boats, enabling us to have it in store in less than 24 hours. In addition, we were the first major retailer to move to cage-free hens for all our fresh eggs, and now we're cage-free on ingredients as well. We're the top retailer for cage-free eggs, selling 800 million eggs a year and we have 80% of the barn egg market which means that even our basics eggs are from hens that live in a barn with space to move around and display natural behaviour. This year we celebrate five years since converting all of our bananas to Fairtrade. We continue to be recognised as the world's largest Fairtrade retailer and sold over £12m fairly traded products during this year's Fairtrade Fortnight.
But nothing stands still on Planet Retail and our 20 by 20 vision is designed to focus our minds on the fresh food targets we're passionate about - including doubling the amount of British food we sell, reaching £1bn sales on fairly traded products and sourcing all our meat, poultry, eggs, game and dairy products from higher welfare producers. These are the right things to do and will differentiate us even further.
This comment piece originally appeared in Retail Week, 30 March, p.25