The chain said that sales of locally produced items such as bread, meat and eggs had risen 40% this year, and that it now plans to generate £1bn-worth of local produce sales by 2011.
However, independent retailers were unfazed by the claims. Steve Denham, who stocks a wide range of West Sussex groceries at his store in West Chiltington, said that the “great personal relationships” between many local suppliers and independent retailers meant they would “not even consider” a contract with Tesco. “They also know that they would be put through the wringer,” he added.
Tesco’s definition of local is often defined by county, or in Scotland and Wales by country, rather than from the area surrounding the store. Steve said: “It’s likely that products Tesco describes as local will still be travelling hundreds of miles before getting to stores.”
Cumbrian retailer Derek Gillpin added: “Many of the suppliers we use are too small to meet Tesco’s vast demands.”
Kenneth Parsons, chief executive of the Rural Shops Alliance, agreed.
“When Tesco talks local it’s generally using a much larger tier of suppliers than would supply an independent.”