M&S reduces its Plan A organic produce targets

Marks & Spencer is scaling back on some of its organic produce targets due to lower than expected customer demand.

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The high-street retailer is reviewing its effort to triple the amount of organic produce it buys and sells as sales of organic produce have slumped due to shoppers cutting spend during the economic downturn.

In line with rival supermarkets, M&S has seen organic sales slump to below 2005-06 levels – the baseline on which the target was set.

It has also abandoned its plans to sell only free-range pork by next year due to “disappointing sales.” However, it has achieved its aim of selling only free-range duck, geese and the majority of its turkeys – although it introduced small volumes of cheaper “high-welfare” non-free range turkeys last Christmas to satisfy demand.

The retailer now plans to move towards selling only British outdoor-bred pork, in line with its sausage, bacon and some of its other ’sliced meats’.

The changes are outlined in an update on progress of M&S’s sustainability strategy named Plan A.

The report reveals the retailer has achieved 95 of its 180 target commitments, is on plan to make target on 77, is behind on seven, and has abandoned one – its commitment to move towards 50% of its lorries running on bio-diesel, due to lack of sustainable suppliers.

Some of the areas where it has achieved success include completing a carbon labelling system for its products in partnership with the Carbon Trust, ensuring all its packaging can be recycled or composted easily, stocking cruelty-free cosmetics and household products, and banning of hazardous pesticides.

The other areas it has slipped on are reducing its water usage, use of sustainable wood, sales of fair-trade clothing, a delay on a Plan A website launch and rolling out responsible buying training to its non-food purchasing staff.

“Plan A was designed to set ambitious and challenging targets, most of which we have achieved or are on course to achieve. However, it’s a very different world in 2011 compared to when it was drawn-up in 2007, so we have re-calibrated some of those areas as we learn,” says a M&S spokesman.

M&S recently won both the Retail category and the Promotional Marketing category in the Marketing Week Engage Awards 2011. For a full list of winners click here

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