Retailers called on to ‘be bold’

RETAILERS need to “be bold” and back changes in the grocery supply chain, an agricultural director told a major farming event in London this week.

Andrew Burgess, of Produce World Group, which has a base at Isleham in Cambridgeshire, was speaking at the LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) President’s Event

He said there needed to be changes in the grocery supply chain model to make it truly sustainable.

“Sustainable means that something can continue forever,” he said, “We must move the grocery supply chain model to much more collaborative relationships and a greater degree of long-term thinking,” he said.

He called for a move away from transactional deals, which he believes threatens the sustainability of British growing.”

Mr Burgess explained how working with LEAF had been a critical part of the company’s approach to sustainable agriculture, and attributed part of the group’s growth and success to its involvement with LEAF, which promotes sustainable agriculture.

“Working with LEAF has been a huge part of our journey in increasing our understanding of the wider farming environment and influencing the way that we work both on our own farms and on the farms that we source from. We are one of the largest vegetable growers in UK. All our UK production is 100% LEAF Marque accredited.

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“I believe that LEAF was a huge catalyst in helping us grow the business from �25million to �180m over the ten years between 1997 and 2007. LEAF gave us the confidence to sell the benefits of environmentally-friendly farming practices to our customers. The LEAF Marque has provided a third party seal of approval and added value at the point of purchase.

“We have been involved in LEAF and organic groups as trendsetters and ‘thought leaders’, and we have helped our customers to lead the way in this area through engagement with agronomy groups and sustainable farming initiatives. LEAF has been instrumental in encouraging us and other farmers to speak out and be proud of what we are doing.”