Asda promises to help farmers

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The Independent Online
ASDA HAS responded to the growing criticism of supermarket profits with a three- year pounds 400m programme of support for Britain's farmers. Though the company denied the plan was a knee-jerk reaction to the Office of Fair Trading's investigation into supermarket profits, Asda said its initiatives would lead to lower prices for consumers.

Allan Leighton, Asda's chief executive, said: "Our view is that there is more we could have done, as an industry, to help farmers. It alarming how big a gap there is between us and the farmers [on prices]."

Archie Norman, Asda's chairman added that it would aim to be more transparent so farmers can see where the additional mark-ups are being made between the farm gate and the supermarket shelf. Asda pledged to choose British produce, meat and dairy products wherever it can.

It also pledged to introduce "cost-plus" purchasing programmes on certain items such as potatoes, so that farmers who can meet Asda's volume and quality requirements are guaranteed a profit.

The move was welcomed by farmers. Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers Union said: "This programme looks set to help both livestock farmers and growers in Britain. It will bring extra confidence to the industry and provide farmers with more marketing opportunities.

Investment, page 23