Morrisons customers have raised £20 million to support farmers, days after its management tried to soothe fears that suppliers would suffer in a private equity buyout.
The supermarket launched the “For Farmers” range, where a small levy on each item is invested in biodiversity and animal welfare schemes, in 2015.
“Milk for Farmers”, which cost 10p more per litre than Morrisons’ standard range, has apparently allowed farmers to take better care of their cattle.
Suppliers grazed their cows for an average of 224 days last year, well over the 100-day requirement for free-range milk.
Morrisons’ “For Farmers Chuckle Eggs”, which cost an extra penny per egg, have paid for 169 acres of woodland for chickens.
It is not the first time the supermarket has asked customers to pay extra to support ethical schemes.
Shoppers in Kent and Sheffield can buy milk in glass bottles, intended to save 40,000 plastic containers every year.
A pint costs 90p – almost double the cost of Morrison’s normal range.
“Our farmers continue to face some uncertainty due to the impact of Brexit and the pandemic,” Morrisons head of agriculture Sophie Throup said.
“So we are pleased to have passed on £20 million from our “For Farmers” range to help fund initiatives which may otherwise have suffered from under-investment.
“It’s great to see many customers want to pay more to support British farmers – and want to buy dairy products from cows that have been let out to graze and eggs from free range hens who can roam.”
A potential Morrisons buyout has been another source of uncertainty for farmers, who believe new owners Fortress could renege on contracts and environmental commitments.
“We considered very carefully whether Fortress would be a suitable and appropriate owner of Morrisons,” chief executive David Potts wrote last week to 3000 suppliers.
“That of course includes the farmers we work with and British agriculture more widely.”
Potts stands to make up to £19.6 million in the 254p-a-share deal.