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7 January 2013 | Anna Reynolds
Waitrose has promised to support farmers affected by last year’s heavy rain, which saw the volume of some crops go down by up to 30 per cent.
“Although food producers and retailers are dealing with higher costs, especially for animal feeds, we remain firmly focused on offering great value to our customers and sustainable returns to our farmers and growers,” the supermarket told SM in a statement.
“We have reinforced our support for farmers and growers affected by unseasonable weather by relaxing specifications to sell fruit and vegetables that are cosmetically imperfect or a different size than usual, but still taste great. This includes weather-blemished and supersized apples and smaller potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers and tomatoes.”
The announcement follows an interview with The Sun newspaper, in which Waitrose managing director Mark Price predicted higher food prices this year. “We’re seeing input food inflation of around 3 to 3.5 per cent, but we expect it go up to as much as 5 [per cent]. In some commodities, the increases will be massive,” he said.
He added that the apple crop had gone down by as much as 20 to 30 per cent and described this as the “tip of the iceberg”.
Waitrose announced a 5.4 per cent rise in sales over the Christmas period. Price attributed the company’s success to being competitive on price, which had helped the retailer win business from some of its rivals.