Waitrose has announced a series of initiatives which it believes will aid its most vulnerable suppliers, including plant nurseries and overseas farming communities.
The supermarket chain said it would unlock £200,000 from the Waitrose Foundation Global Fund to support overseas farmers.
The fund would aim to help the most vulnerable countries and communities in the retailer’s supply chain as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world.
The initiative is expected to reach more than 100,000 farmers in communities that grow, pick and pack produce for its stores by providing social distancing advice, sanitation kits and food parcels.
Waitrose said it was already committed to paying its smallest suppliers within seven days through its membership of the UK government’s Prompt Payment Code but said it intended to speed up payments to the most vulnerable parts of its supply chain.
Waitrose buyers also intend to increase the amount of produce sourced from British nurseries to provide a lifeline for the country’s growers.
It said the company’s buying teams were working on a daily basis with many of the family-run businesses providing local produce to its stores.
In doing so, it aimed to ensure the most vulnerable suppliers are included in key decision-making processes and continue to have a platform to sell products.
“By standing by its commitments and taking more volume of stock across certain categories, Waitrose is helping to support businesses that may otherwise not have had a path to market during the government-mandated lockdown,” Waitrose said.
The company added it had joined other retailers to finance a series of webinars for global food suppliers on topics such as social distancing, furloughing and transport and accommodation.
Rupert Thomas, director of food and grocery at Waitrose, said: “The measures we have put in place are just the start and we will continue to do everything we can to provide support to our suppliers and the people who form part of them, particularly those that are most vulnerable.”