In the Financial Times, Alison Smith – its Chief Corporate Correspondent – sets the scene in two articles written at the end of February. In one she records:
“The group owns 15 farms that cover 17,200 hectares. Only 2% of production ends up in the Co-operative’s supermarkets, with cereals sales to bread manufacturers accounting for 70% of production”.
In another, written in a rather derogatory style, she continues:
“The group’s website pays copious tribute to the “farm to fork” notion, its heritage and the range of its products that find their way on to Co-op shelves. In real life, however, the 15 farms mostly sell cereals to bread manufacturers . . .
”Some die-hards may be inclined to reject the difficult choices this task involves, especially if there seems to be time to consider other options. Mr Sutherland stands a better chance of winning his battle if, instead of asking the views of the public at large, he puts forward his own plan with more urgency and decision”.
This co-operator can’t find locally grown/raised and monitored produce and organic dairy items in her local co-op and appreciates the move towards local sourcing in the Lincolnshire society.
If the Group thinks again and moves towards the Sainsbury/Waitrose provision of organic/British produce, the farm sector could prove to be its best asset – properly marketed.