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ADAS supports WRAP efforts to increase local sourcing

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Recently food waste action charity WRAP published a report into the barriers and opportunities to increasing local sourcing by convenience retailers and food manufacturers conducted by Leslie Berger and Harriet Illman, our Sustainable Food and Farming Team consultants.

WRAP report into local sourcing

This work involved mapping current sourcing and supply chain practices in the bakery, dairy, fresh produce, and meat sectors to see what practices are enabling local sourcing and where there are barriers to sourcing locally.  We also investigated the potential for local sourcing to reduce food waste.  A selection of primary producers, suppliers, wholesalers, packers, manufacturers, retailers, and regional food hubs were interviewed to get different perspectives across the supply chain. 

Case studies of selected convenience retailers illustrated some innovative activities to boost local sourcing such as East of England Cooperative offering a locally sourced fortnight each year and Morrisons actively recruiting more than 200 farmers and local food producers via their Nations Local Foodmakers Campaign.

Other innovations in local food sourcing included Fresh-range, a new online food platform.  Fresh-range is successfully facilitating links between farmers and consumers thus increasing the availability of local foods at fair prices.

Key Findings

Local sourcing means different things to different individuals and businesses. There was general support across the producers interviewed for an increase in local sourcing of meat, fresh produce, bakery, and dairy, however they did not always think that retail convenience stores were the right outlet for this growth to occur. Reasons for producers not wanting to expand local sourcing in convenience stores included:

  • Local producers are exploring other markets, such as farm shops and restaurants
  • Selling products in farm shops or smaller outlets provides a unique selling point for their product
  • Smaller producers are unable to keep up with current demand for local products
  • Producers are focussing on other priorities such as carcass utilisation and free-range rather than local in the meat sector
  • Local producers don’t feel that they would get enough margin from supplying into convenience stores

From a retailer perspective, local sourcing is not always as efficient as national sourcing, in terms of both logistics and cost. Retailers are in many cases trying to reduce the number of suppliers that they have, rather than increase, as would be required to bring on small local suppliers. Retailers also need a competitive price – either selling large volumes cheaply or small volumes of premium products. This may not align with the business models of small local producers. For more information about ADAS’s expertise in supply chains please see our Sustainable Food and Farming webpages.

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