Alliance Group is embarking on a range of new initiatives following leading UK retailer Marks & Spencer’s first visit to New Zealand since agreeing an exclusive supply deal.
The leading meat processor and exporter is to undertake a number of projects in partnership with Marks & Spencer, including various packaging trials designed to increase shelf life, progressing the Central Progeny Trials (CPT), extension of Marks & Spencer’s ‘Pacesetter’ trials to include meat quality and hogget mating, as well as benchmarking the performance of Alliance Group suppliers with UK suppliers.
Alliance Group is the sole supplier of chilled New Zealand lamb to Marks & Spencer, sourcing lambs from approved farms across the South Island for processing at the company’s Lorneville (Invercargill), Pukeuri (Oamaru) and Smithfield (Timaru) plants.
Marks & Spencer supplies a wide range of lamb products to its UK customers, with its fresh lamb cabinet featuring a full selection of bone-in and boneless cuts, and its added-value lamb lines including ‘ready to roast’ leg joints as well as other ‘oven-ready’ cuts which are sold under their premium in-house ‘Cook!’ label.
Murray Brown, general manager marketing at Alliance Group, said: “These initiatives underline the strengthening relationship between Alliance Group and Marks & Spencer. It also reflects the confidence that Marks & Spencer has in Alliance Group and our ability to supply quality chilled lamb to the retailer’s loyal customer base.
“We’re certainly encouraged by these initiatives and the opportunities they offer for our farmer suppliers.”
Steve McLean, head of agriculture & fisheries sourcing at Marks & Spencer, said: “These initiatives demonstrate how much we value our partnership with Alliance Group. Marks & Spencer is committed to innovation so we can meet the taste and tenderness requirements of our discerning customers and these initiatives are central to achieving this.”
All Alliance Group products supplied to Marks & Spencer are sourced from registered M&S Select farms so that the cooperative can trace lambs back to their farm of origin.
The M&S Select Farm scheme sees supplying farmers registered on a traceability management system launched by Marks & Spencer in 2009. The programme, which includes lamb suppliers from both NZ and the UK, features a database that monitors farm-management, animal origin, and livestock records.
Alliance Group, in conjunction with AbacusBio (UK), is also pressing ahead with the introduction of its Hoofprint programme to a group of selected UK farmers supplying lambs to Marks & Spencer.
Hoofprint helps farmers measure on-farm productivity and also monitors the carbon footprint associated with their farm. The web-based farmer-friendly programme analyses performance information based on the data collected from each farm in order to determine the size of its carbon footprint. The Hoofprint model is being released to all registered TRAK suppliers in New Zealand.
Marks & Spencer uses two UK based meat processors, Dawn Meats Ltd and Scotbeef Ltd, to cut and retail pack their New Zealand chilled lamb in the marketplace.
Marks & Spencer is one of the UK’S leading retailers with more than 21 million customers every week. The company employs over 78,000 people in the UK and abroad, and has over 700 UK stores, plus an expanding international business operating in 43 different territories around the world.