AN INTERVIEW WITH MARC BOLLAND
Marc Bolland, Chief Executive, Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC
Marc explains how consumers are changing their purchasing behaviour to manage food inflation and gives cause for optimism, as he believes consumers will not sacrifice the quality and freshness of the food they put on the table, because of the economic downturn.
EFFP: Do you think it is gloom and doom for farmers or should they be looking ahead and thinking that it is actually not that bad?
MB: Doom and gloom never helps you, but you should also be realistic in what is ahead of you. There are export opportunities for farming considering the decline in the pound against the US Dollar and the Euro. Only a few sectors in the UK are strong in export markets and one of those could be the agriculture sector. But for a retailer that gives me difficulty as I stated at your conference in 2007, we source only British Lamb and Pork and we pay fair prices to farmers. Our policy to sell only British Pork and Lamb and subsequently Beef came at a time when it was difficult to export meat and it might be that the meat industry can now benefit from the weakness of the pound. We would look for loyalty and support from the farming industry because we believe in the long-term, not just a 2009 cycle. Also, food has kept its demand and prices have been sustained, so for farming this is also good news.
EFFP: Is part of the answer to increase the UK’s self-sufficiency?
MB: Isolation is not the answer to economic recession. We need to live this with our eyes open, not closed, so we should look at the export and import opportunities this period presents. This may mean increased difficulty in sourcing locally but we should make economic decisions, not emotional decisions and not forget that there is a world around us because that might backfire on us in two to three years time.
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