Retail Gazette Loves: M&S’s new campaign spotlighting sustainable farmers

M&S Food new campaign spotlighting sustainable farmers bee bees blog stuart machin

Marks & Spencer is reaffirming its commitment to British farming with the launch of a new four-month Fresh Market Update customer campaign, showcasing its Select Farm partners.

Select Farms quality means M&S’s food retail division only works with farmers, growers and producers it knows and trusts to source its products with care – whether that’s the highest animal welfare standards or protecting the natural environment.

Leading sourcing standards means ensuring the land in the care of M&S Select Farmers is preserved and protected. To support this, M&S Food has started a new five year Farming with Nature programme to support its Select Farmers to become more resilient to the biggest environmental challenges they face – spanning climate change, biodiversity, soil health and water usage.

As part of this and to support the British bee population, M&S Food is introducing 30 million bees to 28 UK Select Farm Sites this summer located across the country.

M&S's new campaign spotlighting sustainable farmers bee bees blog stuart machin

Bees contribute to a third of the food we eat, but the habitats they depend on like wildflower meadows are dwindling. 30 million more bees will help protect the future of these critically important pollinators and improve the quality of fresh produce.

M&S Food said the journey of its bee programme can be tracked via an interactive Bee Blog blog on the M&S website. The blog will give regular updates from the farms, fed through from expert beekeeper David Wainwright.

“Having worked with M&S for many years I’m really pleased they’ve taken the initiative to begin this pioneering campaign, which will have such a positive impact on the environment,” Wainwright said.

“Each Select Farm we’re working with is unique and its produce will benefit the bees, which in turn will ensure the farmers get greater yields on their crops and produce better-quality food for customers due to the thorough pollination the bees provide. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

M&S's new campaign spotlighting sustainable farmers bee bees blog stuart machin

In addition, from April, M&S Food will expand its RSPCA Assured range to offer more RSPCA Assured products than any other retailer – including all fresh eggs, pork, farmed salmon and farmed trout, Oakham Gold chicken and milk.

In 2017, M&S Food became the first retailer to offer RSPCA Assured milk and is still the only retailer to offer 100 per cent RSPCA Assured milk to customers.

RSPCA Assured is the only farm assurance scheme in the UK dedicated purely to farm animal welfare.

M&S's new campaign spotlighting sustainable farmers bee bees blog stuart machin

Specially-trained professionals carry out annual assessments and spot checks, to ensure the RSPCA’s higher welfare standards which cover health, diet, environment, and care are being met.

Only once all of these standards have been met and assessed can a brand use the RSPCA Assured logo on its products.

Meanwhile, a new TV and multimedia campaign will become the M&S’s biggest ever quality campaign and takes customers behind the scenes at its Select Farms, showcasing the work of farmers up and down the UK.

A total of 19 ads will run across the four-month campaign, with each week M&S introducing viewers to a different farmer.

Customers will hear directly from the farmers about the lengths they go to deliver quality, with each ad presented by ITV’s weather presenter Lucy Verasamy.

“We only work with farmers and growers that we know and trust to source our products with the upmost care,” M&S Food managing director Stuart Machin said.

“I’m incredibly proud that we’ve raised the bar yet again for 2021, with an industry-leading bee programme, boosting biodiversity on our Select Farms and the introduction of the biggest range of RSPCA Assured products on the market.

“As an own-brand food retailer, our founders understood the value in building long-term trusted partnerships and that approach remains central to how we do business today.

“It’s thanks to our unique supplier relationships that we can deliver on our customer promise of trusted value – with delicious, exceptional quality fresh produce and meat – and in our new campaign we want to show the enormous effort our Select Farm partners put in behind the scenes to make M&S food special.”

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