Alliance group secures exclusive M&S deal

Meat processor and exporter Alliance Group has confirmed it has secured an  exclusive deal to supply chilled New Zealand lamb to iconic UK retailer Marks & Spencer.

The South Island co-operative will be the sole supplier of chilled New Zealand lamb to Marks & Spencer from Christmas 2012, sourcing lambs from approved farms across the South Island for processing at the company’s Lorneville (Invercargill), Pukeuri (Oamaru) and Smithfield (Timaru) plants.

This supply arrangement is the first time Marks & Spencer has agreed to an exclusive deal for chilled lamb from a single New Zealand supplier.

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. The retailer’s added-value lamb lines also include ‘ready to roast’ leg joints as well as other ‘oven-ready’ cuts sold under the premium in-house ‘Cook!’ label.

Alliance Group marketing manager Murray Brown says, “This exclusive contract marks a major milestone in Alliance Group’s 20 year relationship with Marks & Spencer. As they have a loyal customer base for lamb, coupled with the fact that our chilled lamb programme runs counter-cyclical to the UK domestic supply season, we’re very excited about the growth opportunities it offers for everyone involved. This deal is good news for our farmer suppliers.”

Brown added: “As a result of the strengthened relationship, Alliance Group is also now actively exploring a number of other initiatives in our agricultural, technical and commercial divisions with Marks & Spencer to maximise the benefits of this partnership.”

Steve McLean, head of agriculture and fisheries sourcing at Marks & Spencer, says: “We are looking forward to growing our partnership with the Alliance Group and strengthening our links with their producers. We are impressed with Alliance Group’s commitment to high quality lamb production, and I am confident they will meet the taste and tenderness requirements of our discerning customers.”

All Alliance Group products supplied to Marks & Spencer will be sourced from registered M&S Select farms so that the co-operative can trace lambs back to their farm of origin.

The M&S Select Farm scheme sees supplying farmers registered on M&S TRAK, a traceability management system launched by Marks & Spencer in 2009. The programme, which includes lamb suppliers from both New Zealand and the UK, features a database that monitors farm-management, animal origin and livestock records.

Meanwhile, in conjunction with AbacusBio (UK), Alliance Group is progressing with the introduction of its Hoofprint programme to a group of selected UK farmers supplying lambs to Marks & Spencer.

Hoofprint helps farmers monitor the carbon footprint associated with their farm, whilst also focusing on improving productivity. 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 will be 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. Both of these companies are already well known to Alliance Group, with personnel from each processor having visited Alliance on a number of occasions in recent years.

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.


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