Morrisons seeks at least 200 new British suppliers

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Morrisons searches for hundreds of extra farmer suppliers. Photo by Jonathan Colon,
Morrisons searches for hundreds of extra farmer suppliers. Photo by Jonathan Colon,

Related tags Supply chain Supermarket

Morrisons is seeking at least 200 new British food and drink suppliers, it revealed today (February 17), after a report claimed only 52% of food eaten in the UK came from British farmers.

The supermarket invited food producers to apply for a spot on its shelves, via a series of 12 regional events – a similar idea to the hit TV show The X Factor​ auditions. The first event takes place in Yorkshire on March 14, Morrisons said.

The search for new suppliers came after research from the University of Leeds – commissioned by Morrisons – found 67% of UK shoppers preferred to buy local produce.

‘Britain’s largest fresh food maker’

Morrisons chairman Andy Higginson said: “Our customers 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 12M 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 supermarket’s priority was sourcing more local suppliers to reduce its food miles – the distance food travels from production to consumption. Its planned UK tour to find “the best local producers”​ will mean customers could buy food that was grown, made, picked or packaged within 30 to 60 miles of a Morrisons store, it said.

‘British farming’s biggest single customer’

British Food report – at a glance

  • 48% of UK food imported
  • 67% of shoppers prefer local produce
  • UK spent £39bn on imports
  • UK gained £18bn from exports

“Morrisons is already British farming’s biggest single customer,”​ said Higginson, “and the publication of the report today ​[February 17] makes us more determined to produce more of our food and source more from local British suppliers.”

If you want to be considered for one of Morrisons’ newest suppliers, you can apply here​.

The report – British Food​ – also claimed the UK spent £39bn on imported produce, while only gaining £18bn from exports. The gap between imports and exports is biggest for vegetables, it said, with the UK importing £9.1bn of veg, and exporting £1bn.

Supporting more local producers would create a greater diversity of farm produce, and would improve consumers’ trust in the food they buy, it said.

Meanwhile, Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) analysts said supply chain risk was set to grow this year, after the UK’s decision to leave the UK and the US’s election of President Donald Trump.

Analysts’ view

  • “The UK’s decision to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump reflect a growing trend of protectionism in the global economy. For this reason alone, supply chain risk is set to increase further in 2017. Amidst exchange and commodity volatility, currency hedging will remain vital, while contingency plans must be put in place to protect supply chains from foreseeable trade barriers. Re-shoring supply chains will be an increasingly attractive prospect in the months to come. But, these are uncertain times for supply chain managers and there is no quick fix for the months ahead. It is more important than ever for supply chain managers to listen to their suppliers, develop closer relationships with them and to monitor any changes, so they can react quickly and ensure their supply chains remain resilient.”​ – CIPS​ economist John Glen
  • “Morrisons’ search for 200 more UK suppliers is a positive move for small and medium enterprises in the grocery sector, with an opportunity to supply to one of the UK’s largest supermarket chains. Smaller farming suppliers in particular will be in high demand, given the recent vegetable shortages from growers further afield already affecting consumers. This gives small businesses a fantastic opportunity to break into the mainstream grocery market and not only increase orders, but also raise awareness of their business. To meet the sheer order sizes of large customers, small suppliers must look to finance partners to stabilise cashflow and continue growth as demands on funds and resource increase.”​ – Funding Invoice​ ceo Aamar Aslam
  • “Global food supply chains are heavily reliant on agricultural commodity prices, and in turn hinge on the climate and financial conditions, which have proven volatile in recent months. Retailers are right to review and strengthen their supplier arrangements in the face of environmental and political threats to food supply as one of the most regulated sectors for trade – gathering 19% of total trade barriers. Encouragingly, this trend is reversing. We saw issuance of trade barriers for agri-food fall by a third between 2015 and 2016.”​ – Euler Hermes​ sector economist Farah Allouche

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