Morrisons has launched an initiative to recruit more than 200 new food suppliers from across the UK.
The grocery chain’s buyers will be going on tour next month in search of the best local producers to supply its 491 stores nationwide.
The retailer is inviting foodmakers to pitch for a place in its supermarkets via a series of 12 regional events starting in Yorkshire on March 14.
Morrisons will also be working Women’s Institute members around the UK who can apply their local knowledge and expertise to source and select the best suppliers in their area.
Suppliers can apply through a new website www.morrisons.com/local. Selected applicants will be invited to an event in their region where they will showcase their food to customers, Morrisons staff and Women’s Institute members as well as Morrisons buyers.
The search will result in customers being able to buy more food that was grown, made, picked or packaged within 30-60 miles of their local store.
Morrisons chairman Andy Higginson said: “Our shoppers tell us they want to see more food that is made just down the road from their own communities, and that’s why we are looking for the next generation of British and local foodmakers to serve our 12 million customers.
“We want small UK food suppliers to become bigger ones – the Innocent Smoothies of tomorrow – and we also want to give our customers the option of more food that meets their local food tastes.”
The move comes as a new report by experts on global food issues, led by Professor Tim Benton from the University of Leeds, says that only 52% of food eaten in the UK comes from our farmers.
In the ‘British Food Report’, which was commissioned by Morrisons, Professor Benton says that in light of uncertainties globally, it makes increasing sense to build up a stronger local food sector here in the UK.Tim concludes by calling on British retailers, producers and customers to recognise the wider benefits of supporting UK food making and production.
Andy commented: ““Morrisons is already British farming’s biggest single customer and the publication of the report from Professor Benton makes us more determined to produce more of our food and source more from local British suppliers.”