Attendants of the Oxford Farming Conference are being given a chance today to hear details of supermarket group Sainsbury’s plans to support British produce.
Ahead of the two-day annual event held at Oxford University which officially begins tomorrow, the grocer is holding a fringe meeting entitled ‘Increasing & securing supply in a rapidly changing environment’.
Sure to be of interest to the assembled members of the farming industry will be Sainsbury’s pledge to double the amount of British food sold in its stores by 2020.
Justin King, the CEO of the retailer, described the company’s ‘20 by 20 Sustainability Plan’ as a “great opportunity for British farmers” in November, as it looks to increase its sales of locally produced goods to £8 billion a year in less than a decade.
Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand, will open the meeting and she will be joined by six farmers who work with the supermarket and Agriculture Manager Natalie Smith.
Batchelar commented ahead of the event: “The Oxford Farming Conference is an important opportunity to debate the key challenges facing the food and farming industry and to reinforce how much further Sainsbury’s is going than any other supermarkets to boost sustainability and create secure supply chains.
“It’s also fantastic to bring a selection of our Farming Development Group members to understand what the future issues and challenges facing the industry.
“Sainsbury’s is going further than other supermarkets to support farmers in our development groups and dairy farmers alone have saved over £10 million in the last five years thanks to improvements in animal welfare and savings in energy bills.”
Issues to be discussed at the meeting include: Ways in which farming development group initiatives are improving herd and health and reducing carbon emissions, Sainsbury’s concept farm in Yorkshire and the welfare outcomes research it has conducted across all of its livestock development groups.
The wider conference will be attended by more than 500 delegates this year and amongst the speakers will be Secretary of State for the Environment Caroline Spelman MP.