In this week’s podcast, Patrick talks to Sophie Throup, the Head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Sustainable Sourcing for Wm Morrison plc. Morrisons is the UK’s 4th largest supermarket chain, with almost 500 stores across the country. Through Morrisons, Sophie has been the BRC representative for the Red Tractor Poultry Board and is now a Main Board non-executive director for Associated Food Standards (Red Tractor). She is also part of the steering committee for the IGD generated FIIA (Food Industry Initiative for Antimicrobials).
Firstly, Patrick is keen to gain a clearer understanding of one of the major influencers of our food systems: the consumer. Are customers actually interested in the provenance of their food? Do they understand the weight of their purchasing power, and the impact of their choices on wider food systems?
Throughout the conversation, Sophie explains that in reality, there is no simple answer to such questions. The topics of customer demand, and the corresponding supermarket supply, are of course part of a far more complex picture, in which various external factors come into play. Although the majority of British consumers do care about the sustainability of their food, the price barrier, labelling, and scale of food production all present challenges to the provision of sustainable, local, produce in supermarkets.
One thing is clear, however, which is that now, more than ever, customers do want to shop more sustainably – supporting the environment, animal welfare, and British farmers wherever possible – and Sophie outlines some of the ways in which Morrisons is setting the bar high for British supermarkets.
Morrisons is highly regarded for its commitment to British farming, selling 100% British fresh meat, milk and eggs. Looking forward, they have set themselves ambitious goals to target the climate crisis, by committing to zero deforestation in their own brand products by 2025, and to be net zero in their UK agricultural supply chain by 2030.