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Gildernew presses 'Home Grown' message at M&S meeting

25 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has met with senior representatives of Marks & Spencer at the new M&S Simply Food store in Cookstown.

The meeting involved M&S Head of Foods for Ireland, Stewart Nisbet, NI Area Manager, Nigel Gray and the Cookstown General Store Manager, John Donnelly.

Following the meeting the Minister said:

"I am firmly committed to helping farmers develop strong and profitable relationships with their supply-chain partners. From our discussions today we have made steady progress towards that goal. It is not in the interest of retailers to squeeze producers to the point of elimination. The links in the food chain are dependant on one another and to ensure continued sustainability they all need to share the profits."

The Minister also reaffirmed her position on sustainability saying:

"My Department is resolute in its support of industry initiatives to develop and expand profitable and sustainable markets and I intend to keep local sourcing and fair returns for producers at the very top of the agenda. I am glad to see a wide range of 'home-grown' products on the shelves in M&S' new Cookstown store and we will work closely in the future to expand this range. My firm objective remains to maximise the amount of 'home-grown' produce on local shelves across the retail sector." ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  1. The meeting today is one in a series of discussions Minister Gildernew has had with the major retailers over the last year.
  2. Earlier this year Minister Gildernew met with Musgrave Retail Partners and more recently senior personnel from Sainsbury's to discuss local sourcing and highlight the economic pressures on local producers.

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