20 September 2007
The Co-op is to ask its four million members in the UK what it should do about sustainability.
The supermarket collective is consulting its members to develop an ethical food policy that will underpin the business's strategy on issues such as sustainable sourcing, food labelling and community support. Members are being asked to consider the impact of their proposals, because if supply chains become localised in a desire to reduce "food miles" and carbon footprint, it will affect the group's suppliers in the developing world.
Peter Marks, chief executive of the Co-op, was critical of other retailers' attempts at sustainable policies. "We are determined not to pursue lazy thinking, such as airplane logos on air-freighted produce," he said. "Our members will help establish our ethical priorities for the next three to five years."
Barry Clavin, the Co-op's ethical policies manager, told SM
it was too early to judge what responses would concentrate on, but that they would affect suppliers. He added that the important thing was to follow through on commitments once they had been made.
The Co-op has carried out surveys on similar issues before, but never on this scale. It was the first UK supermarket to stock Fairtrade bananas in 2000, and all its stores are powered by green electricity.