M&S is reaffirming its commitment to British farming with the launch of a new four-month ‘Fresh Market Update’ customer campaign, showcasing the lengths its Select Farm partners go to deliver exceptional quality M&S Food. Select Farms quality means M&S only works with farmers, growers and producers it knows and trusts to source its products with care – whether that’s the highest animal welfare standards or protecting the natural environment.
Leading sourcing standards means ensuring the land in the care of M&S Select Farmers is preserved and protected for future generations. To support this aim, M&S has started a new five year ‘Farming with Nature’1 collaborative programme to support its Select Farmers to become more resilient to the biggest environmental challenges they face – spanning climate change, biodiversity, soil health and water usage. As part of this and to support the British bee population, M&S is introducing 30 million bees to 28 UK Select Farm Sites this summer located across the country, from Herefordshire to Hampshire.
Bees contribute to a third of the food we eat2, but the habitats they depend on like wildflower meadows are dwindling. Through M&S Select Farmers promoting more natural habitat on farms and introducing more bees, M&S is helping to protect the future of these critically important pollinators and will improve the quality of its fresh produce for customers.
The journey of our bee programme can be tracked via an exciting interactive blog on the M&S website. The ‘Bee Blog’ will give regular updates from the farms, fed through from our expert beekeeper David Wainwright.
David has been producing top-quality honey for M&S for more than 10 years and this summer he’ll be harvesting a unique crop for M&S.
“Having worked with M&S for many years I’m really pleased they’ve taken the initiative to begin this pioneering campaign, which will have such a positive impact on the environment. Each Select Farm we’re working with is unique and its produce will benefit the bees, which in turn will ensure the farmers get greater yields on their crops and produce better-quality food for customers due to the thorough pollination the bees provide. It’s a win-win for everyone!”
RSPCA Standards – the biggest RSPCA Assured range on the high street
From April, M&S will be expanding its RSPCA Assured range to offer more RSPCA Assured products than any other retailer – including all fresh eggs, pork, farmed salmon and farmed trout, Oakham Gold chicken and milk.
In 2017, M&S became the first retailer to offer RSPCA Assured milk and is still the only retailer to offer 100% RSPCA Assured milk to customers. RSPCA Assured is the only farm assurance scheme in the UK dedicated purely to farm animal welfare. Specially trained professionals carry out annual assessments and spot checks, to ensure the RSPCA’s higher welfare standards which cover health, diet, environment, and care are being met. Only once all of these standards have been met and assessed can a brand use the RSPCA Assured logo on its products.
Joe Bailey, Head of Farming at RSPCA Assured, said: “We’re delighted that M&S is leading the way in committing to stocking the widest range of RSPCA Assured products of any UK retailer. We know customers recognise and trust the RSPCA Assured logo and standards and it helps them to make better choices on their weekly shop. Paving the way on milk, there are now hundreds of higher welfare options available to M&S customers – from eggs and sausages to salmon. And not only is it good news for shoppers but animals too. M&S’s commitment to RSPCA Assured means that many millions of farm animals will benefit from being cared for to strict RSPCA welfare standards.”
Building trusted partnerships
Stuart Machin, Managing Director of M&S Food said: “We only work with farmers and growers that we know and trust to source our products with the upmost care. I’m incredibly proud that we’ve raised the bar yet again for 2021, with an industry-leading bee programme, boosting biodiversity on our Select Farms and the introduction of the biggest range of RSPCA Assured products on the market. As an own-brand food retailer, our founders understood the value in building long-term trusted partnerships and that approach remains central to how we do business today. It’s thanks to our unique supplier relationships that we can deliver on our customer promise of trusted value – with delicious, exceptional quality fresh produce and meat – and in our new campaign we want to show the enormous effort our Select Farm partners put in behind the scenes to make M&S food special.”
Fresh Market update
The new TV and multimedia campaign will be the retailer’s biggest ever quality campaign and takes customers behind the scenes at its Select Farms, showcasing the work of M&S’ Select farmers up and down the UK.
A total of 19 ads will run across the four-month campaign. Each week M&S will introduce viewers to a different farmer, from Chris Chinn growing the finest single origin seasonal asparagus to the award winning Davidstow creamery which has lovingly produced M&S’s Cornish Cruncher for the last 17 years. Customers will hear directly from the farmers about the lengths they go to deliver Select Farms quality, with each ad presented by ITV’s Weather Presenter Lucy Verasamy. The ads also include M&S chef Chris Baber who will inspire customers with delicious, seasonal family recipes, kicking off with Sweet Chili Tacos next week using M&S salmon- mouthwatering!
The campaign will reach over 60% of the population throughout its run, highlighting not just M&S’s industry leading standards and quality, but also its great value for a weekly shop. The TV campaign will run across ITV, Channel 4 and You Tube, and is supported by a monthly in store free What’s Fresh magazine and a bespoke 40-page Fresh publication covering our Select Farms suppliers and the food they produce. Direct mail, emails, social media, including bespoke ‘meet the farmer’ films will target customers. A regular drumbeat of local stories will be highlighted via the nationwide store-run local Facebook pages, which receive 2 million views per week. An online hub containing farmer stories, recipes, seasonal eating tips and a bee blog will be regularly updated. Customers will also see vibrant in store displays and newly designed packaging to dial up the provenance, quality, and sourcing credentials of our food.