2005-11-12

Stats & Health: Scotland is Winning With Food Integrity

Shoppers are buying more 'locally sourced' food and drink than ever before, as increasing numbers of consumers desire to know where their food has come from and how it got to the store. The changing consumer patterns, reported by all the major store chains, reflect wider trends towards 'food integrity' -- purchasing fresher and healthier items whose source is clearly labelled -- and the rise in sales of organic and fair-trade groceries. Farmers' markets also have seen massive growth. And according to an analysis of sales carried out by one chain for 'The Scotsman' newspaper, more than half of all 'locally' sourced food and drink sold in the company's supermarkets across Britain comes from Scotland. According to 'Sainsbury's', more than 59 per cent of its customers bought locally sourced products in preference to other brands in the past year -- a 9 per cent increase on the previous period. Across Britain during 2004, the supermarket chain sold 6_500_tonnes of Scottish-grown potatoes, 400_000_litres of 'Mackies'' ice cream and over 850_000 'Bells' pies. It also shifted 700_000 litres of 'Irn-Bru', over 30_million_GBP of Scottish fruit and vegetables and 90_million_litres of 'Caledonian Water'. The chain recently expanded its stock of haggis and sausages supplied by Perthshire firm 'Simon Howie'.
'They are selling extremely well,' said a spokesman.
Mr.Mike Mccafferty, of 'Simon Howie', said:
'Over the last four or five years, demand has grown so much. The 'Sainsbury's' deal is worth about 2_million_GBP or 3_million_GBP to us so shoppers are still buying local stuff even in supermarkets.'
Ms.Carole Dawson, of the 'Harvey Nichols' foodmarket' in Edinburgh, said:
'Consumers don't just want to know where things come from, they want to know about the farm -- how the animals are raised, how the fish are caught.
'If you're having a dinner party, you want to be able to say where your food came from. 'Support for local produce is so fierce that, since we introduced "Skye Mineral Water" into our foodmarket, sales have rocketed to the point we no longer stock "Evian".'
But a spokesman for NFU 'Scotland' said:
'These findings match with the feedback we're getting from consumers.
'They want guarantees on quality and how their food has been produced.
'By picking Scottish, they have that peace of mind. 'However, whilst the growth in support for local produce from supermarket shoppers is great news, the problem is ensuring a fair share of the shelf price gets back to the farm gate. 'Consumer support is essential, but unless we get fairer trade between the big supermarkets and their suppliers, the real concern is that local produce will disappear from the shelves.
'For many farms, the sums just aren't adding up.'
'Demand rockets for 'local' produce ', Alasdair Jamieson, The Scotsman, 2005-11-12, Sa

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