CEP Organiser for the East Riding of Yorkshire, Della Petch, has written to Hilary Benn, Minister at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs suggesting that leading supermarkets could encourage shoppers to buy English produce by using a 'bonus points' system similar to the one already operated successfully by retailers in Ireland promoting local products. Since the 1998 Devolution legislation the DEFRA Minister’s responsibilities are for England only.
Shoppers in Irish supermarkets are alerted to local produce by shamrock symbols on supermarket shelves, which then also appear on till receipts. These products can often earn bonus points through supermarket loyalty schemes. Della Petch’s suggestion is that English produce could be similarly 'flagged up' on till receipts with a small English flag, which could also earn bonus points where loyalty schemes exist.
She has now written to Cabinet Member Hilary Benn to ask him to raise the idea with England’s major retailers. The UK Government has already established working relations with the major supermarkets to promote environmentally friendly practices such as reducing carrier bag use.
Commenting Della said:
"Earning bonus points for buying local could be an excellent way to boost England’s economy and cut down on unnecessary food-miles this winter.
"There are already a number of labelling initiatives run by the supermarkets and producer groups, and introducing a further incentive to buy local could be a shot in the arm for England’s farmers.
"Just like the shamrock in Ireland, the English flag on the shelves and then on the till receipt would help to emphasise how easy and important it is to buy decent local produce, and reward shoppers in the process.
"I have written to the Cabinet Secretary asking him to look at the idea in more detail, and to discuss it at his next meeting with the major supermarkets.
"We need to make full use of England’s magnificent larder if we are to promote healthy eating, reduce pollution from transporting food, and boost the economy during the current downturn.
"A simple scheme like this could make all the difference."
Della Petch, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Knowles, email: email@example.com Tel: 01260 271139