Major trial initiative sees supermarket mitigate growers’ costs in potatoes and carrots

Morrisons has launched a new trial to support farmers by underwriting 100 per cent of the costs associated with growing crops.

The supermarket said the trial will help British growers mitigate the cost and weather pressures that come from the peaks and troughs of the season, including field rent, fertiliser cost and ”gives farmers greater financial security with Morrisons shouldering all the risk”.

Crops are currently being grown on three potato farms and one carrot farm, with the first produce from these farms due to hit shelves before the end of the year and into 2024. If successful, Morrisons hopes to roll out this scheme to more farms later next year.

The retailer noted that it already supports farmers by buying whole crops and picking out any fruit or veg that is perfectly fine to eat but has a quirky shape or surprising size for its Naturally Wonky range. The range includes 24 wonky varieties, and 27,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables were sold this way in 2022.

Gareth Cosford, senior buying manager for root vegetables at Morrisons, said: “As British farming’s biggest direct customer, we understand the impact that higher costs are continuing to have on farmers. Therefore our trial scheme allows us to take all the risk associated with growing the crop away from our farmers and continue to grow the best-quality British produce that our customers know and love.”

Participating farms so far include Naish Farms, which grows potatoes for Morrisons. Director Andrew Nash said: “Morrisons already buy our whole crop of potatoes from us, taking the top-quality and also misshapen or oversized ones and making them available to customers as part of their naturally wonky range to maximise our return and offering the best value to their customers.

“In farming there are ups and downs throughout the season. For us we are seeing greater weather challenges which may impact our crops and by being part of this new Morrisons trial, they’re underwriting our growing costs to cushion us from the associated risks and provide supply security so that we can focus on growing the very best potatoes for their customers.”