M&S reinforces position as leading retailer supporting local agriculture and farming sustainability
Peter Kennedy, M&S Agriculture Manager
As the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) prepares to open the gates at Balmoral Park for the 150th Balmoral Show, Platinum Sponsor Marks & Spencer is set to showcase its commitment to local agriculture and farming sustainability.
Peter Kennedy, M&S Agriculture Manager says: “M&S has always led the field in its support for local agriculture and farming sustainability and the Balmoral Show is the perfect platform for us to stamp our authority as a leading retailer, to maintain and build on close relationships with our farmers and producers and to communicate our ‘Farming for the Future’ partnership approach to sustainable agriculture.”
Northern Ireland is a major supply region for the M&S food business with beef, pork, venison, turkey, potatoes, bread and eggs produced not only for Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland stores, but also for many stores across the UK.
Peter continues: “Balmoral Show provides us with a fantastic opportunity to say a huge thank you to our customers, colleagues, farmers and producers here and to celebrate the marvellous relationships we have with them.
“Over the four days of the show, M&S will showcase the suppliers who bring the very best of regional food to its stores here. We firmly believe that great food comes from great ingredients, produced by the best farmers and growers and this year our regional focus at Balmoral will include recognition of our local producers. They include Graeme Boden who supplies M&S with free range eggs through Skea Egg Farms from his farm in Co. Tyrone, brothers David and Andrew Irwin and their father Roy who run one of the farms supplying milk to M&S through local processor Lacpatrick and John Dobson who runs an Aberdeen Angus suckler herd and is one of 548 farmers who supply beef and lamb to Linden Foods.
“Our show stand will bring the very best of M&S to life for our customers, farmers and growers and demonstrate our commitment to farming initiatives through a selection of interactive consumer experiences.
“Children can take part in educational activities where they will see day old chicks and can watch a video through binoculars to get a ‘chick’s eye view’ of life on a free-range farm.
“As the only major retailer who can trace all our beef back to every farm and animal, we will explain our DNA testing process. We trace every animal, we know what it has been fed and where it came from – we trace it, so you can trust it. Children can learn how we feed our cows a balanced diet to keep them healthy by playing a game a where they throw coloured bean bags representing grass, sileage and other feedstuff into the cow’s mouth.
Visitors will also be able to see live chef demonstrations showcasing the very best of M&S products, sample the retailer’s delicious regional produce, witness the passion for quality and innovation and discover the extraordinary lengths M&S go to, to bring them such fantastic food.
Peter continues: “In this our sixteenth year as Platinum Sponsor, M&S will continue to sponsor a selection of the beef livestock classes. These will take place at the cattle lawns on 16th May and include the Aberdeen Angus Breed Classes, Beef Pairs Championship, Beef Junior Champion of Champions and Beef Young Handler.”
M&S will also use Balmoral Show as a platform to celebrate the next generation of farmers through the ‘Farming for the Future Awards’.
Peter continues: “This year’s Farming for the Future Awards prize giving will be held in the Farmers’ Lounge on the M&S stand at 4.30pm on 16th May. Finalists, as well as farmers, suppliers, industry influencers and the trade media will be invited to attend the awards ceremony, providing the opportunity for face-to-face regional engagement and presentation of the overall Farming for the Future Award. For the third year, an additional Prince’s Countryside Award to mark our support of the Prince’s Countryside Fund with be presented.
“Throughout the duration of the show, the M&S stand will allow us to meet our suppliers, farmers and producers, as well as host a programme of interactive customer experiences, chef demonstrations and tastings. Visitors will also have the opportunity to visit the retail shop selling lunchtime snacks from the M&S ‘Food on the Move’ range and our ‘Coffee To Go’ area.”