Midcounties Co-operative demands that suppliers reveal sources of ingredients

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Happerley founder Matthew Rymer with CEO of Midcounties Co-operative, Phil Ponsonby, and TV presenter and farmer Adam Henson

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A supermarket in the Cotswolds has taken an unprecedented step in providing transparency for shoppers, making it mandatory for suppliers to reveal where their ingredients are sourced from. 

After joining forces with Happerley — an organisation working across the UK food industry to provide provenance and traceability — the Midcounties Co-operative in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, said Tuesday it would de-list every food and drink brand in its "Best of Counties" range that did not agree to have the ingredient supply chain audited and published for public scrutiny. By Wednesday, according to reports, it had 155 of its suppliers on board, while 15 others were still being vetted.

Customers recently got a glimpse of the new provenane-scanning technology at a recent unveiling at the Co-operative, which featured TV presenter author and farmer Adam Henson and MasterChef quarterfinalist Sarah Dugdale. 

“Matthew approached me about 14 months ago and explained the concept of looking at traceability and transparency in the food supply chain, and as a farmer, I feel proud and passionate about what we produce," Henson said. "I’d love the consumer to understand where our food has come from and then be able to have a level playing field when it comes to marketing it. It’s a great initiative and I’m right behind it.”

“Transparency is a core value of ours, and we are delighted to have supported Happerley from the start and believe this project will grow and grow," says Phil Ponsonby, chief executive of Midcounties Co-operative. "We are 100 per cent committed to it.”

The development marks a milestone for Happerley, a group committed to giving consumers a way to ensure the honesty and transparency of food through the chain.

“Food and drink have become one of the most opaque industries where disingenuous branding, marketing and selective truths disconnect consumers from the truth they deserve," says Matthew Rymer, chief executive and founder of Happerley, "Consumers increasingly want to know the impact of their food and drink purchases, and the whole industry can benefit by delivering a means to empower the consumer to know the journey of their food."  

Happerley QR codes will be available at point of sale across Midcounties-Cooperative's "Best of Counties" range. A further roll-out across hundreds of stores is expected.

“It is the hope of our board that Happerley will now become the credible and trusted currency of truth across the entire industry," says Rymer. 

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