The news that Aldi became the first retailer to sign up to the NFU’s Fruit and Veg Pledge caused waves across the industry. NFU chief horticulture adviser, Chris Hartfield, explains why...
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This is a real breakthrough. It is a commitment to stripping out unwieldy bureaucracy and charges and minimising market volatility for smaller suppliers, which can kill off their businesses. I hope other supermarkets will sign up very soon.
The discount supermarket chain’s public declaration comes three years after the NFU first laid out its Fruit and Veg Pledge. It was one of the elements of our Catalyst for Change report, launched at London Zoo and aimed at highlighting supply chain poor practice and a decline in British self-sufficiency in several British staples products.
The NFU gave the Aldi story to the Guardian, spelled out its importance to its business desk and encouraged the newspaper to break the news exclusively on the front of its website and in print.
‘Aldi is the first retailer to sign up to a so-called fruit and veg pledge drawn up by the National Farmers Union, which aims to improve long-term relationships with British growers and suppliers, boosting their profitability.
‘The code includes a commitment to supplying seasonal British fruit and vegetables and stripping out bureaucracy and unfair charges.
‘Aldi has committed to providing promotions that will not be financed by growers, overturning the traditional supermarket model that relies on direct funding from suppliers.’
Since then other companies have been in touch, asking for more information about the scheme and how they can get involved.
Long gone are the days where the NFU relies on just churning out press releases.
The NFU’s strategy to seed the story with the Guardian meant the press impact was strong and far reaching. Following the page-lead article in the Guardian the story was picked up by key publications like The Grocer and Farmers Guardian.
But it also featured prominently in other publications that the NFU doesn’t frequently appear in – like Marketing, Retail Week and the European Supermarket Magazine.
There are various benefits of getting our news out in this way. Long gone are the days where the NFU relies on just churning out press releases and hoping that good news like this reaches a wide audience.
The NFU press team made sure that Aldi’s pledge got the national coverage it deserved, securing headline news at a time when the Great Yorkshire Show was also in the limelight.