The Co-operative in quality drive to boost own-brand range

September 11, 2013

The Co-operative Food, the UK’s fifth largest retailer, is extending and improving its entire own-brand range to capture a greater share of this growing market and attract younger customers.

At the same time, the community-based retailer, which operates almost 2,800 local, convenience and medium-sized stores across the UK, is reinforcing its commitment to British farmers by converting a number of key product ranges, including Food to Go, chilled ready meals and pies, to using 100% British meat, poultry and fish, wherever possible*. 

The overhaul of The Co-operative own-brand range and its commitment to product quality, supported by a major advertising and marketing campaign, is a key element of the retailer’s strategy to boost sales, as part of its aim to provide customers with delicious food conveniently.

Rolling out from this week, the retailer’s new Food to Go breakfast and lunch range, featuring everything from porridge to spectacular lunchtime salads, is also the first to be launched into The Co-operative’s new “Loved by Us” brand, which is being introduced across its standard tier to reflect the retailer’s love and passion for food. 

As well as a tempting new selection of Middle Eastern and Indian-style flatbreads and wraps, classic sandwiches have been improved with softer breads and extra fillings - the pre-packed prawn sandwich, for example, now contains 50% more prawns, making it market leading against equivalent sandwiches from other multiple retailers.

The new and improved chilled ready meals range, including almost 50 new premium Truly Irresistible and Loved by Us products, has also been benchmarked against the market and designed to be the very best so customers can enjoy restaurant-quality meals at a fraction of the cost or as a great, quick alternative to home-cooked food. 

It will be rolled out from 16 September, alongside an extended and improved range of chilled pies, all featuring British meat and poultry, where applicable.

The switch to 100% British meat and poultry for these key own-brand product ranges demonstrates the retailer’s commitment to for British farmers and its support for the NFU’s “Back British Farming Charter”.  It follows the launch of The Co-operative’s British Farming Groups earlier this year, designed to  cement relationships with producers, deliver a continued investment in quality, and provide shoppers with a more consistent and transparent supply chain.

Steve Murrells, Chief Executive - Retail, The Co-operative Group, said:

“This will take Co-operative own-brand products to a new level. We are completely overhauling our own-brand range, and we believe this extensive new product development will encourage customers to re-appraise The Co-operative brand.

“We’ve adopted a ‘back to basics’ approach - re-evaluating key ranges to ensure they offer our customers carefully chosen, great quality, good value products as part of our mission to provide delicious food conveniently – whatever the time of day. 

“All our fresh chicken, pork, beef and turkey is 100% British, and switching to 100% British meat and poultry for these key own-brand product ranges forms a large part of the quality message. In a survey commissioned by The Co-operative earlier this year, 72% of people said it was very important that the UK has a sustainable farming industry, with 22% saying it was quite important.”

NFU Head of Food and Farming, Phil Hudson, said:

“The Co-operative has already expressed its support to Back British Farming by signing our new online Charter. Today’s news really demonstrates the retailer’s commitment to British farmers in sourcing only British meat and poultry for its key own-brand ranges.  Our own survey work showed that 78 per cent of people agree or strongly agree that supermarkets should sell more food from British farms and so I welcome The Co-operative’s back to basics approach to a more direct, transparent and fairer supply chain.”

For further information on the new ranges, and on The Co-operative’s ongoing support for British farmers, customers can visit www.co-operativefood.co.uk

* 100% British meat, poultry and fish where appropriate, for example, excludes contintental meats, prawns and tuna.

Additional Information: 

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned by nearly eight million members.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer operating across the country with almost 2,800 local, convenience and medium-sized stores, and is also one of Britain’s leading farming operations.  The Group’s banking business operates through over 300 high street branches and 22 corporate centres with telephony and online channels. 

Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider, the third largest pharmacy chain and a growing legal services provider.  As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group is a recognised leader and pioneer in its social goals and community-led programmes. The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 95,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn. 

Further information is available at www.co-operative.coop