This week we wanted to highlight the work of Tesco Northern Ireland who have come on board as a sponsor of Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend for the first time this year.
We caught up with Head of Marketing for Tesco NI, Caoimhe Mannion about why the retailer has got involved with BOIOFW and the importance of buying locally.
Why is local sourcing important to Tesco?
The agri-sector is one of the largest in Northern Ireland’s economy, and as one of Northern Ireland’s largest companies and employers, Tesco NI sees it as a responsibility as well as a privilege to support the community in which we operate. In our quarterly research, more than half of respondents tell us that buying locally grown or produced products is important or very important to them. And, over 60% of shoppers tell us that locally grown products influence their decision to shop at their local supermarket.
It seems “in vogue” for supermarkets to all claim to be the best, but what’s the substance?
Yes it does, but we’re more than happy for Tesco NI to be judged on the facts of what we actually do, which can be seen in our stores. 100% of Tesco fresh beef, chicken, pork, milk and eggs are sourced locally and that’s just a part of over £550million worth of local products we purchase annually. We buy over 1200 lines from more than 90 local suppliers and many thousands of farmers.
Our shoppers might not know that we have a 10-strong Newtownabbey-based buying and marketing team. This includes a technical manager who liaises with local companies to bring great new Tesco ranges forward such as the recently launched Tesco Finest Northern Ireland sausage range, from Ballymena-based Doherty & Gray. Another example is the recent workshop at Belfast’s Riddell Hall at which local companies learned how Clubcard data and market intelligence can help firms be more proactive and customer-centric.
What do you do to promote locally sourced products?
Because it’s important to our customers, it’s important to us, so we build it in to a range of activities and campaigns across the year,
As well as denoting local produce at the shelf-edge with our distinctive purple and green ‘Tesco Taste Northern Ireland’ logo, we have a range of projects in the ongoing Tesco Taste Northern Ireland campaign. Examples include the Tesco Taste Northern Ireland Festival, an annual event showcasing local producers which takes place in September in Belfast and attracts over 20,000 visitors.
We have also recently hosted 23 sampling fairs in our stores, with up to 20 local suppliers taking part in each event, enabling shoppers to taste before they buy.
We also offer artisan companies not listed in Tesco the opportunity to do “pop-up” shops in our foyers, which helps their market-testing and helps them develop their business.
And a number of events take place in our stores across the year which are designed to put a spotlight on local products – Spring and Autumn Festivals, Autumn Harvest, and NI Breakfast Week.
Why are you involved with this project?
As with our Tesco Farm to Fork Trails that seek to increase children’s knowledge about food, this project seeks to connect people with where local food comes from – and to strengthen relationships between the farming and non-farming communities. We wish all the participating farms every success!