Waitrose has announced a number of support initiatives for its most vulnerable suppliers during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Most notably the supermarket has unlocked £200k from the Waitrose Foundation Global Fund to support its overseas farming communities in response to the COVID-19 crisis focusing on the most vulnerable countries and communities within the supermarkets food supply chain.
Waitrose says this will help provide much needed communication about social distancing advice as well as providing sanitation kits and food parcels for the communities that grow, pick and pack produce sold in Waitrose stores. This is projected to aid just over 100,000 workers.
The multiple retailer is also continuing its commitment to British farmers, with all of its fresh and frozen beef, chicken, pork, eggs and milk 100% British sourced. Waitrose says it is continuing to pay fair prices while work hand in hand with its farmers and support sales of UK produce including promotions across key categories.
Waitrose’s buying teams are working on a daily basis with the family run businesses that provide local produce to its stores, ensuring that the most vulnerable suppliers are included in key decision-making processes and continue to have a platform to sell their products.
“This pandemic poses the greatest humanitarian and economic threat of our generation and, whilst we face many difficult decisions, as a collective industry we must continue to look at ways we can help to protect people and their livelihoods during this unprecedented time.”
It is also taking more stock of horticulture products to provide a lifeline to British nurseries that supply it. By standing by its commitments and taking more volume of stock across certain categories, the supermarket is helping to support businesses that may otherwise not have had a path to market during the Government mandated lockdown.
The supermarket has partnered with other retailers to help finance a series of webinars with global food suppliers. The webinars include talks from a variety of experts across the UK’s food retail industry, educating suppliers across the globe – in particular those that are several weeks behind the Covid-19 curve in the UK – to provide education and learnings on topics such as social distancing, furloughing and transport & accommodation.
Waitrose is also actively engaged with several working groups, including retailers, key farming organisations such as the National Farmers Union (NFU) and other stakeholders. It also continues to provide strategic and financial support to key farming charities, including Addington Fund, Farming Community Network (FCN), Forage Aid, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I), and RSABI, supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund.
Rupert Thomas, director of food & grocery at Waitrose said: “The John Lewis Partnership was founded on the principle that we have a responsibility to others and that we must treat people fairly, which extends to our Partners, customers, suppliers and the communities that we trade with, including those outside of the UK.
“This pandemic poses the greatest humanitarian and economic threat of our generation and, whilst we face many difficult decisions, as a collective industry we must continue to look at ways we can help to protect people and their livelihoods during this unprecedented time. The measures we have put in place are just the start and we will continue to do everything we can to provide support to our suppliers and the people who form part of them, particularly those that are most vulnerable.”