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Security Of Supply Is Important

10 December 2009
National Farmers Union

UK - Security of supply was the key message to come out of National Farmers' Union (NFU) Cymru’s recent Annual General Meeting in Monmouthshire. According to figures quoted by guest speaker Waitrose Agriculture Manager, Duncan Sinclair, the UK dairy herd has seen reductions of 80,000 in one year.

“The declining figures are a real concern,” said Mr Sinclair. “Figures last year suggested that the UK dairy herd has reduced by 3.8 per cent with the rearing cattle reduced by 2.5  per cent. Waitrose has led the way in addressing the issue however by building trust with our suppliers long term to ensure that investments on farms have been made in order to gain a continuity of supply in future years.

“The county of Monmouthshire has been hit hard by Bovine TB, something Waitrose is very sympathetic towards. We have our own farm and are fully aware of the anguish bovine TB brings not only to a herd of cattle, but to the farmer as well. Waitrose completely understands the pressure and devastating consequences the disease causes to the farming industry,” Mr Sinclair told local farmers.

Mr Sinclair explained that the Waitrose supermarket had grown over the last ten years, expanding from 119 branches in the UK in 1999, to an expected 225 stores which will be in operation by the end of 2009. The newly launched essential Waitrose line has helped grow food sales, delivering the same quality food at lower prices.

Whilst economic recovery is seen as a main challenge for the future – year on year sales have actually increased by 8 per cent. Waitrose is also aware of the current challenges the industry as a whole are facing.

Mr Sinclair added, “As a retailer we need to ensure that we are not gold plating our contracts; we also need to be aware of the impact compulsory sheep EID on the sheep industry as well as the threats new disease outbreaks can bring to the industry. The future direction of the CAP is also important. There are many unknowns, but we are trying to steer a path that we can adapt and adjust and hope that we get enough suppliers to ensure the supply of meat and milk for the future.”

Alan Williams, NFU Cymru Monmouthshire County Chairman said, “Pledges from supermarkets to stock as much British beef and lamb as possible send out the correct messages to producers to invest in production. As producers we welcome the fact that Waitrose has sourced 100 per cent beef and lamb this autumn and hope this kind of commitment continues all year round.”

Whilst Waitrose holds 18 per cent of the organic retail market, the recent downturn in the economy has seen some consumers move towards free range products rather than opting for organic. Mr Sinclair concluded, “We are committed to providing customers with choice and free range continues to be popular.”

TheCattleSite News Desk



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