Page last updated at 23:17 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 00:17 UK

Stores defend local food policies

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

M&S, Tesco and Morrisons signs
Three retailers have outlined their policy on using local food

Three of the UK's major retailers have defended their records of offering local food to their customers.

Tesco, Morrisons and Marks and Spencer all said they were committed to using produce from the areas where their stores were located.

The responses came after a week-long experiment by two BBC reporters in the south of Scotland trying to survive on food from the local areas alone.

They described their difficulties in sourcing goods in larger supermarkets.

The food challenge took place in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

Reporters Giancarlo Rinaldi and Angela Soave spent seven days trying to live on locally-produced food.

Regional suppliers

Both said it had proved difficult to find local produce in bigger stores.

Supermarket firm Tesco said it had much to be proud of in its work in Scotland in general, and Dumfries and Galloway in particular.

A spokesman said: "Tesco works together with local communities and regional suppliers to bring our customers a wide range of quality Scottish products.

We know that Scotland produces some of the finest food in the UK from Scottish salmon to Scottish beef
Morrisons spokeswoman
"We recognise the importance of buying locally to ensure freshness and quality and are privileged to work with more than 150 Scottish suppliers from the Highlands and Islands to Dumfries and Galloway."

He said many small producers had benefited from Tesco's work with them.

He highlighted firms such as Scarletts Honey which started producing honey with 40 hives in 1999.

"Today the company has over 1,200 hives located through the fields of Perthshire, Fife and Angus," he said.

Another Tesco-backed success story has been Castle MacLellan Foods of Kirkcudbright.

"Twenty-five years ago Castle MacLellan pates were developed in the back shop of a small delicatessen producing several tubs of pate a day," he said.

"The company now supplies all deli counters in Scotland and produces Tesco Finest pates."

Other Scottish suppliers include Dean's of Huntly, MacLean's Bakery in Forres and Cream O' Galloway ice cream.

Best products

Morrisons said it was constantly reviewing its specific local and regional ranges.

A spokeswoman said a successful launch of a Yorkshire range was likely to see a similar concept in its Scottish stores in the next 12 months.

"We know that Scotland produces some of the finest food in the UK from Scottish salmon to Scottish beef," she said.

Strawberries are among the Scots products in stores
"We have established relationships with over 100 Scottish suppliers to ensure that we offer the best Scottish products to our customers."

She said that as a result all their fresh salmon and pre-packed lamb and beef were Scottish.

"In season, Scottish strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are available," she added.

"We also offer a wide range of locally sourced cheeses including Strathdon Blue and Arran Cheddar."

A spokeswoman for Marks and Spencer said it sourced more than 260m of its food from Scottish suppliers.

"Where possible we sell Scottish produce in Scottish stores, but an increasing amount is sold in the rest of the UK," she said.

"Our approach to food sourcing is centred on working in partnership with farmers and growers.

"We also believe in the importance of consumer awareness in driving best practice and have worked hard to respond to the increasing demand for information."

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