'Farm pictures on supermarket food can be the real deal'

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

Feargal Quinn

Q: Do you agree photographs of smiling farmers that supermarkets now use is a bit fake, and trying to paint a picture that the supermarkets really care?

A: It is not so much about the photograph, but rather what lies behind it in terms of commitment to working with Irish farmers, growers and producers.

Twenty-five years ago, Superquinn was the first supermarket in Ireland to make genuine efforts at working with farmers.

We made commitments to take certain crops which were grown on our behalf, had an open policy of listing small and early-stage producers which other retailers wouldn't and trying to find ways to raise the standard of the various food categories to the benefit of the farmer or the grower.

We were the first supermarket in the world to use DNA traceability to link all of our meat back to the actual farm it was raised on. On many meat categories we had the individual farmers' name on the pack.

For us it was not fake. It was real and it was demonstrable through traceability systems back to real people. I think what you are referring to in today's mass marketing by some retailers are some of the more generic statements, whereby a single farmer is shown, not the specific one who had grown a product.

There is nothing wrong with it, but it is somewhat superficial and much more could be done to bring the traceability systems that exist to life in a more realistic way.

I recall being in a Champion supermarket in France and as the manager was giving me a tour, a farmer in muddy boots and leeks with the roots still on them came in trundling through the front door with boxes he was unloading from his trailer right outside the front door.

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The manager explained that he had discretion from his head office to buy one farm-based product directly. His customers loved it. This is traceability at its best.

Something that is cut and picked within a few hours and only a few kilometres down the road.

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