David Lewis, commercial director at the company, which supplies organic and conventional dried fruit, nuts, seeds, pulses, grains and health foods for retailers and manufacturers, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “It’s for Lidl UK and Ireland and we think it will represent about 3% of our overall turnover.” The firm chalks up annual sales of £60M.
He said contrary to some consumer perceptions of the discounters, the company had had to meet tough quality specs before the deal could be struck. “The quality piece is as high as anything I have seen. We had to benchmark against Marks & Spencer.
“We’re going to focus on core lines. We supply all major [supermarkets]. We will get incremental growth with Lidl.”
Lewis said if the conventional supply agreement proved fruitful, he would explore the possibility of offering Lidl organic food lines. “It’s a conversation we will be having in the next few months.” Community Foods is Sainsbury’s supply partner for organic nuts and seeds.
Suppliers attending the launch of the Soil Association’s 2015 Organic Market Report on February 24 said they would be open to supplying discounters Aldi and Lidl with organic food. Some of them, such as Organix, which supplies one product to Aldi, already are.
Manufacturers present at the launch said discounters they had dealt with had been approachable and easy to deal with.
In October last year, Aldi revealed it would start stocking a limited organic food range in its UK stores.
In addition to the Aldi contract, Community Foods had also agreed to supply Asda with organic tomato lines under its Tarantella brand, said Lewis. “We have four organic tomato items going into Asda stores from next week.” The products would replace Asda own-label organic tomato lines, he added.
Lewis predicted strong growth for Community Foods in 2015. “January and February were very strong for us. Where we were forecasting flat growth for October and November, we’re now forecasting growth in brands and own-label.”
In addition to Tarantella, the company’s brands include Crazy Jack Organic and Jumble Bee. Its Sanchi, Orgran and Le Pain des Fleurs ranges have been shortlisted in the FreeFrom Food Awards. Winners are announced at an event on April 22.