Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Every little helps

Glad to see those public spirited people at Tesco want to do more to help local communities. According to Farmers Weekly they’re opening new buying offices across the UK. The idea is to forge closer links with farmers and get more local products in their stores.

It seems the company’s buyers are busy looking for local product ranges to help satisfy a market sector that could be worth £1bn in three years time. Since launching local sourcing a year ago, Tesco has, it seems, discovered more than 1000 new product lines.

The company’s head of local sourcing is quoted as saying: “More customers want great local food that is fresh and contributes to the local economy.” How heartening to know that our biggest supermarket chain is so committed to supporting the local community.

The last time I shopped in my local Tesco I was offered a money-off petrol voucher at the check-out. It entitled me to 5p off every litre I bought in the store’s adjoining filling station.

The only explanation I could come up with for this blatant piece of cross-subsidising was that it was an attempt to wipe out the local opposition. There’s only one other petrol retailer in our small west Somerset town. The supermarket company appeared to be using profits from one area of trading – grocery retailing – to undercut a competitor in another.

This seems rather at odds with Tesco’s apparent concern for the local economy. Could it be that the real reason for the new local food initiative is to knock out farmers’ markets and farm shops?

Thanks, Tesco, but I shall go on buying my local food at my neighbourhood farmers market, just as I buy my petrol from the local Esso station. In fact, I have a suggestion to make. Why don’t the independent petrol retailers start selling local food? That way we may start to see some real support for local economies.


John B said...

"Why don’t the independent petrol retailers start selling local food?"

Because unlike Tesco, they don't have the supply chain, the fresh-food experience or the stock turnover to make it profitable, or the inclination to try. So they'll continue selling gone-off tinned rubbish, while Tesco will continue selling edible fresh food. Or they'll go out of business.

Either way, good.

David said...

Graham you seem a little cynical about Tesco's motives. ;) They do have a dreadful reputation for ironing out the wrinkles of competition! I wonder though if what is at fault is the model of the corporation. Tesco are fantastic at giving a good service to their shareholders. They are just doing what they do very well. Maybe the problem is 'profit' or rather greed. I love the models of 'not for profit' companies which are often about social engineering rather than business. Take Belu for example.

As for Tesco? I'm with Franz Ferdinand...

Like the blog - great stuff.

Uta said...

Hi Graham,
I just want to say that your book was huge turning point in our search for real food. This is the only way I can contact you since the we want real food website seems to have disappeared. Please can you bring it back? I keep referring people to your book and it would be great if the website was still up. Thanks for a great book.

Meadowmaker said...

I've just come back from Spain where I am told Tesco's own a large area of productive farmland near where I was staying and they had just secured a multimillion pound contract to supply Russia with vegetables from this land. So much for 'local'. Tescos is a corporate entity interested in making a profit and will do whatever it can to achieve this. Some customers want to buy 'local' so Tescos will obviously wish to satisfy that demand, but remember what their purpose in life is - to make money. The vast majority of the public still want to buy cheap food they know is safely produced, no matter where it comes from.