Hard work in getting local products on the shelves

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THE local buying team at Tesco along with its vegetable processor partners helped ensure supply demand was met over the busy Christmas period.

There was a fear the bad weather which had caused extensive damage to harvests might have led to the importing of winter vegetables this Christmas, because of potential shortages.

However, in reversal of this trend, the Tesco team in Northern Ireland worked tirelessly for months with the entire supply chain to have local potatoes and vegetables on the supermarket shelves.

Angus Wilson, Owner of Wilson’s Country based in Portadown said, “It’s well documented that 2012 was the worst potato season in almost 30 years. We started off the season in a weaker position, with over 20 per cent less acres planted due to rising costs in the sector, over supply last year and growers keen to spread their risk as a result. But when the poor weather hit, yields were on average 25-30 per cent lower than 2011.”

Cliff Kells, Commercial Manager, Tesco NI said, “The impact of the poor weather was exceptional and growers and processors went the extra mile to ensure we make the very best out of the poor harvests. While it would have been an option to draw supply from other parts of the UK and Europe, we took a conscious decision, in keeping with our local sourcing policy, to support the local growers. That is why we responded promptly to the crisis, working with Wilson’s Country, Gilfresh Produce who both draw supply from growers all over Northern Ireland. Both processors worked hard to get the most out of every crop, which helped the growers, and we worked closely with our local suppliers to introduce flexibility around specifications. This, coupled with strong messages and communication in store, means that consumers were still be able to avail of the great quality product they have come to expect from Tesco.”

Thomas Gilpin, Owner, Gilfresh Produce says, “Even despite the difficulties this year, we supplied local sprouts to Tesco for the first time this season, which is great news. We re-evaluated all produce sourcing on a daily basis to ensure ongoing continuity of supply to Tesco. By working together on this we maximised opportunities, from supporting the growers, giving them confidence for next year, right through to giving Tesco customers local produce too, so we’ve achieved a win win for everyone.”