The Midcounties Co-operative Food has today announced a new partnership with food technology business Happerley to become the world’s first retailer to pilot a new system that will enable customers to track the provenance of the Society’s ‘Best of our Counties’ range.
The technology was developed by Happerley to enable people to learn more about the ingredients included in their food and drink, and encourage more transparency in the supply chain.
The Midcounties Co-operative Food announced the introduction of the pilot today at its annual supplier conference in Longhope, Gloucestershire.
The 200 local food and drink suppliers at the event were invited to adopt the system, which will ultimately result in Happerley certification and a QR code being added to product packaging that once scanned informs the customer about the ingredients that make up the item.
A handful of suppliers to the Society’s Best of Our Counties range have also been invited to take part in trials of the Happerley Passporting technology, which is designed to enable customers to instantly trace the journey of every single ingredient from farm to fork.
Happerley was formed by businessman and farmer Matthew Rymer, who teamed up with fellow famer Clifford Freeman to develop and introduce the Happerley certification and Passport technology to help make the UK food industry more transparent and connected, and enable consumers to explore the journey of their food.
Matt Fletcher, Direct Sourcing Manager at The Midcounties Co-operative Food, said: “We are a strong supporter of transparency in the food supply chain, and have invited all of our Best of Our Counties range suppliers to take part in the Happerley pilot. We’re committed to championing local producers and suppliers and doing all we can so that our customers and members understand more about the ingredients that make up our ever-growing Best of Our Counties range.”
From today Happerley is ready to publish and certify the supply chains of every food business, whether a restaurant, a food manufacturer or a butcher. This platform, and the field trials of the business’ block chain passporting technology with The Midcounties Co-operative, brings its end goal one step closer: enabling the consumer to trace every actual ingredient in any food item back to seed or birth with one scan.
Happerley founder, farmer Matthew Rymer says: ‘In days of near total transparency in every aspect of our lives, too many smokescreens hide the truth of food.” Rymer, who campaigns tirelessly for a better connected food industry, sees The Midcounties Co-operative’s initiative as a significant milestone on this journey. He argues that everyone should be able to validate the provenance of their food. “Whether a £4.99 chicken, a bag of carrots or a steak on a plate, the consumer should be able to name the farms and know the journeys, which will help to build consumer confidence and strengthen provenance.
“I see a real opportunity for the UK farming industry and its supply chain to flourish post Brexit, despite less subsidy and cheap imports. However, farmers must lock in their provenance differentials – across food miles, welfare, sustainability, environment and creed - and for these values to be validated through to the consumer for the benefit of all, for this to happen.”
The Midcounties Co-operative has headquarters in Warwickshire, with trading outlets in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Shropshire, West Midlands, Avon, Somerset, Dorset, Worcestershire and the surrounding counties.
The Society trades in food retail, funeral, travel, pharmacy, childcare nurseries, flexible benefits and energy, as well as running a number of post offices. Midcounties is the largest independent co-operative society in the UK, with more than 500 sites and 507,000 members and was voted as Co-operative of the Year’ at this year’s Co-operative Congress.
The Society has received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development and achieved a 5 star rating in Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility (CR) Index for 2016.
The Society's mission statement is 'To be a successful consumer co-operative working towards creating a better, fairer world, and to enhance the lives of our colleagues, members, customers, and the communities we serve'.