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September 09, 2005

Sainsbury's farmers' market mash up

James Governor's comment about his local Fresh and Wild got me thinking. The best thing about it, he said, is the farmers' market across the road. It's a similar story in New York, apparently, where a flagship Whole Foods has opened next to the Greenmarket:

It began congenially enough, however, with the new upscale supermarket donating $8,900 to the Greenmarket as the first of four annual “5% days,” when 5 percent of a day’s profit goes to a local nonprofit organization.

Whole Foods spokesperson Fred Shank draws the image of shoppers carrying Whole Foods bags at the Greenmarket, and Greenmarket bags in Whole Foods.

It’s not only shoppers crossing over — mixing open-air with subterranean, small bags with shopping carts, hand-wrapped with prepackaged — but purveyors as well. Shank points out that the Whole Foods prepared food team checks out the Greenmarket every week for fresh ingredients; and products from Greenmarket regulars, like Ronnybrook farms and Bread Alone, can be found on the new chain store’s shelves. Planners expected the new Whole Foods to bring more people to the area, and folks from the Greenmarket, as well as the new store, say it seems to have done so.

This crossover of buyers between farmers' market and supermarket got me thinking about Sainsbury's new focus on organic food. The SO range is a fantastic development - could Sainsbury's solidify its organic credentials by working with existing farmers' markets? Even help set up new ones? It sounds counter-intuitive - why would Sainsbury's work with their "competitors?" - but I think there would be benefits.

The consumer would gain increased choice of fresh, local produce, while still having the convenience of a "one stop shop." The farmers would get access to Sainsbury's locations and customers. Sainsbury's would gain credibility as supporters of local organic farming, further distinguishing itself from Tesco and Asda. The total market for organic produce would grow and Sainsbury's would be the focus of that growth, supplying that expanded market on the days that the farmers are not in town. Sainsbury's might even consider guaranteeing the farmers' sales for the day, and take any surplus for resale after the farmers go home, or for donation to local community projects and charities. The whole thing might even provide what commenter Paul Goodison calls edutainment.

What do you think?

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on September 9, 2005 at 08:41 AM in Food | Permalink


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That's a very interesting idea Adrian. A progressive approach to localisation and the encouragement of local produce.

Sometimes you can Be More Competitive By Being Less Competitive. In other words, sometimes it doesn't hurt to engage with or even encourage "competitors" if its going to benefit the customer. Doing so improves the relationship with the customer. If another firm does something well why not admit it?

One of Tesco's slogans is "British Farm's biggest customer"

but they evidently do little or nothing to encourage good practice and smaller farms. its all about yields and price and perfectly shaped vegetables.

Sainsbury's could do things differently.

Posted by: james governor | Sep 9, 2005 10:46:03 AM

I like that idea too, Adrian and I agree with James about being more competitive by being less competitive.

I think brands need to create more porosity if they want to create real engagment with stakeholders, a willingness to get a little messy at the boundaries. Hugh Macleod had a nice riff on this here.

Posted by: Johnnie Moore | Sep 11, 2005 9:26:50 AM

links to my rant on fresh & wild ... SO much prefer whole foods in the US/Canada ...

Posted by: micawber | Sep 13, 2005 6:17:01 PM

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