The origin of our food
Supporting British farmers, artisan producers and organic growers is at the heart of what we do – we aim to bring you the very best of British ingredients when they’re in season and at the peak of their flavour.
For instance Harry Hall’s family fruit business has been supplying strawberries to Waitrose for 20 years. "Today we grow four strawberry varieties, each with a distinct flavour: Elsanta has a traditional texture and flavour; Sonata is conical in shape, and juicy with depth of flavour; Sweet Eve is sweet and crunchy, even when it's pale; and Eve Delight has less crunch and is more complex, but just as sweet.
There is a really strong correlation between a sunny day and things going well and a wet day when things become much harder. Soft fruit is exactly that, and rain is a problem. The weather this year has made the crop about 20 days late.
I eat masses of soft fruit. It's nice when you get new varieties – we have two new varieties of raspberry which is exciting, and two new strawberry varieties."
"Flavour is everything to us – it makes us remember the past, enjoy the present and look forward to the future”. Harry Hall, Waitrose strawberry supplier.
As farmers ourselves at Leckford Farm, we're right at the heart of British agriculture. In fact, we already stock all of our fresh beef, pork and chicken from British farmers - and that includes all the meat in our ready meals.
This is far more than a belief. It is a fundamental requirement - and one that we expect our suppliers to recognise with us, in the way they treat all those people who get their products on to our shelves.
It's what we call responsible sourcing.
Waitrose encourages its suppliers to:
- provide the best possible conditions for workers
- protect the natural environment
- promote high standards of animal welfare
Why does responsible sourcing matter?
- It reflects the John Lewis Partnership's culture
- It is central to our desire for sustainable trading
- It is good business practice
- Customers' interest in quality extends to intangible elements such as how food is produced and where it is sourced.
Sourcing British food
Waitrose always tries to source from Britain when products are in season and at the peak of freshness and flavour.
We are proud of our British suppliers and forge strong relationships with them founded on trust, fairness and a passion for good food. With a reputation built on the quality and freshness of our food, we are committed to letting people know about the wealth of high quality food available.
Waitrose believes retailers play a vital role in safeguarding the future of the countryside and the farmers who create it, and we take our responsibilities seriously.
Waitrose was the first retailer to set up livestock producer groups, of which we have over 30, sourcing directly from farm, giving producers an assured market, clear direction, and a stable base on which to build their businesses and invest in the future.
Other initiatives include inviting local farmers into stores to meet customers, talk about their products and see how they are marketed after leaving the farm. We also run regular workshops to help farmers keep abreast of new techniques and environmental issues. Waitrose farmers farm in a considered way to protect and enhance our natural resources and focus on enhancing the biodiversity of their farms. Waitrose supports LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), which aims to unite the concerns of farmers, consumers, environmentalists and the government. All our British Fruit and Vegetables are grown to LEAF standards.
Regional and local sourcing
Many of Waitrose's local products are from companies that produce food within a 30 mile radius of a branch.
Waitrose has a team of buyers dedicated to seeking out local and regional sources of the best quality food that often cannot be found in other supermarkets.
Many of our local suppliers are small, family run businesses, who may want to supply only a handful of Waitrose branches.
At present, more than 2500 local products from 600 local suppliers are available in nearby branches.
Waitrose's Small Producers' Charter reassures our smaller suppliers that we are committed to a fair and ethical relationship with them.