Farm shops join Ice green rewards scheme
Small retailers plan to battle supermarket giants
Six of the UK’s largest farm food shops have joined the “green” rewards scheme Ice.
The farm shops say the move will help them compete more effectively against the UK’s dominant supermarket multiples.
Ice allows consumers to buy their products online, in-store or via phone as well as offering a reward incentive which competes with similar major retailer schemes such as Sainsbury’s Nectar and Tesco Clubcard.
The farm shops which have joined, including one of the largest in the UK , Farrington’s, claim this could be the start of activity which revolutionises the sector and are calling on other farm shops, food delivery companies and artisan food producers to join them.
Paul Castle, COO of Farrington’s, commented: “This is about all the ‘little guy’ farm shops co-ordinating together for the first time and could have a massive effect on consumers as they will now be rewarded on a national level; none of us could ever do this alone.
“We know there is a huge public appetite for farm fresh food, and by coming together in the Ice loyalty programme we can begin to persuade significant numbers of consumers to buy their food direct from their local farm shop.”
He added that supermarkets are more affected by the VAT-hike and rising fuel prices than farm food shops, which have lower transport costs and because the majority of their foods are zero-VAT rated.
Jude Thorne, CEO of The Ice Organisation, commented: “We’re right behind the farm shops and have a real sense of the momentum growing as consumers seek ever greater value for themselves and act on their undoubted desire to spend with local suppliers rather than global behemoths. For the first time for many of these farm shops, customers will receive great value rewards for use against future purchases; in these still tough times this value can’t be ignored.”
She added that Ice is primarily about rewarding people for making more eco-friendly choices and that it offers “sustainable shopping” across a range of sectors including travel, clothing and utilities.
“In terms of food, however, there is little doubt farm shops offer all consumers who want to buy locally produced food better value and taste with fewer food miles,” she said.
The Ice national rewards scheme was established in 2010. It has a range of socially-conscious partners across different sectors including fashion label Frank & Faith, The Natural Garden Company, Britishfinefoods.com, wine supplier Vintage Roots and vehicle hire service greentomatocars.
In the 1990s Ice CEO Jude Thorne helped turn Air Miles into BA’s most profitable subsidiary, with profits in 2000 of £27.2m.