Sainsbury’s launches sustainability plan
Sainsbury’s is to double the amount of British food it sells and boost its provision of fairly traded products under a wide-ranging £1bn sustainability plan launched on Wednesday.
The company, which has 21 million customers and almost 1,000 stores, said it was the most ambitious and far-reaching programme ever announced in the industry, as it set out 20 targets covering its products, community work and employees.
Initiatives unveiled under the so-called 20 by 20 sustainability plan will include driving down energy use in supermarkets, doubling the amount of British food sold from the current £4bn a year, increasing sales of fairly traded products to £1bn and making sure suppliers of meat, poultry, eggs and dairy goods follow higher welfare standards.
As well as being the the world’s largest Fairtrade retailer – accounting for £276mworth of sales last year – it is also the largest retailer of MSC certified fish and RSPCA Freedom Food-certified products.
The company is also pledging to create 50,000 new jobs by 2020, by which point it expects 20,000 members of Sainsbury’s staff will have reached 20 years’ service.
The new plan coincides with the roll-out in stores today of the supermarket’s new Brand Match scheme. Following Tesco’s
launch of its Big Price Drop campaign, Sainsbury’s is pledging to save customers money by price matching match thousands of items sold by rivals Tesco and Asda Sainsbury’s chief executive, Justin King, said: “Given the scale of our business, we believe these 20 commitments represent the most ambitious sustainability targets in our industry. If we are to meet the sustainability challenges that lie ahead, it is important that companies such as Sainsbury’s invest in the future right now. We do not see this plan as a luxury, it is rather an essential investment that will ensure we can continue to provide customers with quality food at fair prices, sustainably. This represents another step in helping our customers live well for less.”
King said the company had achieved most of its commitments covering corporate responsibility issues and now wanted to take a long-term view of how it conducted its business, predicting: “This will change the agenda in our industry.”
David Cameron welcomed the announcement, saying it was a good example of the government scheme Every Business Commits, which is encouraging businesses to help build a “big society”.
Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said: “We’re delighted to see Sainsbury’s commitment to double its sourcing of British food. It recognises the high quality and standards of production that British farmers meet and that consumers increasingly expect in the food that they buy. This additional demand will send a really positive signal to the industry at a time when farmers are facing massive investment pressures.”
Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said Sainsbury’s was building on an already impressive record over the sale of fair trade goods.
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