Posted: 15/07/2019

Sainsbury’s mentor scheme has recruited 120-plus small brands

Sainsbury’s recruitment of distinctive small brands, through an incubator and mentorship programme, has created a line-up of more than 120 producers set to receive shelf space across its chain. 

The supermarket group confirmed that its incubator Future Brands initiative, first reported on in FFD a year ago, had culminated in a new phase from 23rd June, called Taste the Future. 

Brands will now be rotated every 12 weeks in special bays across 68 stores – with a view to securing a wider presence.

Sainsbury’s said in its 2019 annual report that customers wanted distinctive products they could not find anywhere else and it now had 126 Future Brands in its stores.

Independent specialist food stores are likely to watch the supermarket’s scheme with a keen eye, with many openly ready to de-list items that make it to the multiples.

Karen Price, owner of Ansty Farm shop in Salisbury, Wiltshire, said: “Obviously we like to deal with the small artisan producers and as soon as they get into mainstream supermarkets they’re not small artisan producers anymore.

“As a smaller farm shop, we are looking for the unique small local producer. If that is the way [these producers] want to go, and the big multiple is supporting them, good luck to them but we look for the smaller non-supermarket products.”

Caroline England, manager of Manor Farm Shop in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, told FFD that she was not overly concerned about supermarket initiatives to recruit start-up brands. 

“Most farm shops and delicatessens offer something quite different to a supermarket,” she said.

Sainsbury’s said: “Our dedicated Future Brands team works closely with small, specialist suppliers to bring these innovative and exclusive ranges to our customers.”  

“We have a longstanding history of working in genuine partnership with our suppliers and, over the last seven years, they have consistently ranked us first or second for supplier relationships in the industry’s largest independent supplier survey. We now have 126 Future Brands in our stores.”

One of the latest incubator brands is Mighty Society, which makes a range of vegan milk alternatives made from yellow split peas.

Other early participants have included Mallow and Marsh, Pip & Nut, Yaar, Lemonaid, No.1 Rosemary Water and Brain Füd.

This story appeared in the July issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.

Read more of the latest news from Fine Food Digest here

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