The UK supermarket group Morrisons has launched a new trial where it will underwrite 100% of all of the costs of growing a crop.
Details of the £2 million, year-long trial, which will involve three potato farms and one carrot farm, were unveiled yesterday (Thursday, August 3).
As part of the trial, the first of its kind in the UK, Morrisons will cover all costs from field rent to fertiliser costs involved in growing the crops.
According to the supermarket group, which said that it works directly with more than 2,700 farmers, the trial aims to give farmers “greater financial security” because Morrisons will shoulder all the “risk”.
Gareth Cosford, senior buying manager for root vegetables at Morrisons sais: “As British farming’s biggest direct customer we understand the impact that higher costs are continuing to have on farmers.
“Therefore our trial scheme allows us to take all the risk associated with growing the crop away from our farmers and continue to grow the best-quality British produce that our customers know and love.”
Crops are currently being grown on the farms that are participating in the trial and produce from this trial is expected on be on the supermarket’s shelves by the end of this year and in 2024.
The supermarket group said that if the trial is successful it will roll out the scheme to more farms later next year.
One of the farms that is participating in the new trial is Naish Farms which grows potatoes for Morrisons.
Andrew Nash, director at Naish Farms said: “Morrisons already buys our whole crop of potatoes from us, taking the top-quality and also misshapen or oversized ones and making them available to customers as part of their naturally wonky range to maximise our return and offering the best value to their customers.
“For us we are seeing greater weather challenges which may impact our crops and by being part of this new Morrisons trial, they’re underwriting our growing costs to cushion us from the associated risks and…supply security so that we can focus on growing the very best potatoes for their customers.”
In 2015, the supermarket group launched its Morrisons Naturally Wonky initiative where it buys whole crops and picks out any fruit or veg that has a quirky shape but is perfectly fine to eat.
According to the group this helps to minimise food waste in the field and also offers “affordable produce to consumers”.
“It also gives farmers an alternative route to market. The range includes 24 wonky varieties, and 27,000t of fruit and vegetables were sold this way in 2022,” Morrisons said.