We’re committed to doing more to give British products pride of place on our shelves from the moment they are ripe for picking.
We pledge to:
- extend British seasons for home-grown fruit and vegetables, support British horticulture with new ranges, source British flower varieties and commit to fruit and vegetable growers with new long-term contracts
- deliver on the NFU’s fruit and vegetable pledge and provide more seasonal British fruit and vegetables
Extending the British Season
MWW Farms is one of our valued producers who, for the past 16 years, have been growing and packing a range of crops in the Severn Valley, an area renowned for early production due to its light, sandy soils and low risk of frost.
The Co-op and MWW Farms have worked closely to create a three year strategic plan, which means we can offer both extended UK seasonality and new UK product lines for our customers.
Simon Barnett, head of growing at MWW, says: “We managed to plant peas before New Year to get product on to Co-op shelves by the first week of May this year and Co-op customers also had Tenderstem® Broccoli available to them on Christmas Day last year.” Over the years, MWW Farms has continued to use innovative methods to establish itself as leader in the field fora broad spectrum of crops; such as offering UK Trimmed Fine Beans to reduce air miles through the UK season. We have worked with them to invest in asparagus production alongside commercial trails of mangetout, fennel and butternut squash for this summer.
In addition, we have been able to set land aside for longer establishing crops with the knowledge that there will be a demand for the produce on The Co-op shelves. An example of this would be our commitment to locally grown Asparagus to enhance our British credentials. With longer term contracts we can take an extended view on payback allowing for more sustainable and innovative investment models.
Creating new varieties
Naylor Flowers is a family-run farm in Lincolnshire that has been growing flowers for over 60 years. The Naylor family is one of the main suppliers of British flowers to the Co-op.
The farm grows a wide range of flowers between January and November from daffodils to delphiniums and sunflowers to ornamental cabbages. Each year the hard working team of up to one hundred flower croppers harvest tens of millions of stems by hand especially for the Co-op.
Its approach to innovation is perfectly illustrated with Sweet Williams. This pretty summer bouquet is one of our best-selling British products. Naylor Flowers grow ten different varieties of Sweet Williams and, whilst the seed comes from a number of different countries, all are grown in the UK.
“We have managed to get the exclusive rights to a strain of Sweet Williams that are slightly earlier than then traditional varieties.” Matthew Naylor
The Naylors use three generations of knowledge to get the best results which helps to keep British flowers available for longer. The Naylor family play a strong part in our local communities and last year, for Open Farm Sunday, the Naylors welcomed 1,500 visitors onto their farm.
Kathryn Camps, Co-op Technical and Development Manager for Horticulture, said “We were pleased to be involved in Open Farm Sunday at the Naylors. The sun shone and crowds of people came to enjoy lots of activities. Open Farm Sunday really gives our customers a chance to see the farms on which their food and flowers are grown.”
Meet the producer - Mark
Co-op's tulips are truly British, and grower Mark is keeping them green in more ways than one. We headed to Norfolk to meet him.
Meet the producer - Christopher
The British asparagus season may be short, but it's well worth waiting for. We headed to Herefordshire to find out how it's grown.
Meet the producer - James
British cauliflower is taking over the trendiest menus. We headed to Lincolnshire to find out what makes it so special.