Waitrose has announced a long-term partnership agreement with fruit supplier Primafruit to exclusively manage the sourcing of imported fruit categories.
Effective from May 2015, the agreement is aimed at enabling Waitrose to build closer links with its growers.
It is hoped that the shorter supply chain will also ensure greater stability for growers, and provide increased opportunity for Waitrose and its growers to plan strategically for the long term, including the creation of a produce development fund.
As part of the new agreement, Waitrose and Primafruit will be packing all imported core fruit in a single packhouse in Evesham, creating a number of jobs.
The move builds on the retailer's focus on complete supply chain transparency through short and dedicated supply chains. Waitrose sources all its meat, poultry, fish, eggs and milk from known groups of farmers, creating close collaboration, encouraging best practice and ensuring a sustainable return for producers.
Waitrose head of fresh produce, Simon Moore, said: "This new model will enable us to build stronger links with our grower base in which we can invest and plan for the long term.
"And the shorter supply chain will ensure we are sourcing our fruit in the most efficient way possible, creating the best value for customers while continuing to build our leading quality standards."
The categories covered by the partnership are citrus, grapes, stonefruit, melons, and pineapples.