Waitrose Opens First Supermarket Farm Shop

Posted on 12 August, 2013 by Kirsten Kennedy

The worldwide obesity crisis, and ensuing media attention, have forced consumers to consider the health implications of their diet in a way never before seen. As a result, natural, locally grown produce has become highly desirable for those looking to keep fit and eat well – a fact supermarket chain Waitrose hopes to capitalise on.

Waitrose has  opened the doors of the UK’s first supermarket farm shop. The 165 square metre shop, located on Waitrose’s 4,000 acre farm estate in Hampshire, stocks more than 1,000 items from both the estate itself and sources within 30 miles.

The timing of the Leckford Estate’s outlet opening certainly seems very opportune for the retailer, with many consumers still concerned over the horsemeat scandal.

In a recent study conducted by Mintel, it was revealed that 42 per cent of consumers trust the food industry to react to crises such as the horsemeat scandal effectively, while only half of respondents trust the food industry to provide food safe for human consumption – with a further two fifths of respondents undecided on that point.

By offering only homegrown and locally produced items, Waitrose can safely guarantee the origins of everything on the shelves; something which consumers are expected to respond to in their droves.

Head of the Leckford Estate, Iain Dalton, spoke of the potential for innovation The Farm Shop could bring to Waitrose.

He said; “Waitrose is in a very fortunate position to have its own farm, and the new shop, which is totally unique for Waitrose, can showcase not just the food produced on the estate, but allow outstanding local and regional food producers to flourish.

“The shop will sell the highest quality food and if something proves popular, there is the potential for it to be sold more widely.”

Should The Farm Shop prove to be successful, perhaps the UK’s largest supermarkets will consider similar ventures of their own. The Co-Operative already owns and operates 14 farms across the UK, from which many products such as meat, milk and vegetables are sourced.

Tesco is similarly attempting to curry favour with farmers and local suppliers by creating the role of Director of Agriculture. This position will be filled by Tom Hind, the corporate affairs director at the National Farmers’ Union.

With the issue of consumer faith – or lack of – in the UK’s largest supermarkets urgently needing to be addressed, perhaps Waitrose has hit on to the ideal, and most cost efficient, solution. However, the true test of the initiative will be in the coming weeks when consumers visit the UK’s first supermarket owned farm shop themselves to see whether home grown really is the way forward.

Would you visit a local supermarket farm shop if given the option, or do you believe that visiting independent farm shops is more cost effective for you and better for the local economy?

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