Riverford's Fair to Farmers Charter
We're asking all supermarkets to commit to these 5 sourcing principles.
Almost half (49%) of British fruit and veg farmers fear they will go out of business within the next 12 months. 75% report that supermarket behaviour is a leading factor.*
If all supermarkets committed to these principles, the lives of farmers would be transformed - giving them stability, a reliable income, and protecting the future of British food and farming for the long term.
Click each principle to read more
Buy what you committed to buy
Farmers grow entire crops at supermarkets' request, only to be told, once it's ready and harvested, that they don't want it anymore. Buyers should make firm promises to buy, and keep those promises.
Pay on time
UK farmers often have to wait up to 12 weeks to be paid - a practice that's illegal in the EU. Buyers should pay as quickly as practically possible, guaranteeing farmers a regular, reliable income.
Commit for the long term
Farmers should be able to invest in their businesses with confidence, and not live with the constant anxiety of short-term contracts. Supermarkets should build long-term relationships with farmers, unless there are good reasons to look elsewhere. If they do need to change suppliers, they should give good notice, and honour all agreed purchases.
Agree on fair specifications
Fair specifications (the standards for a crop, defining size, shape, and so on) should be agreed together - balancing the buyer's knowledge of what customers want, with the farmer's expertise about the crop. Buyers should never use unreasonable claims about quality to wriggle out of a commitment to buy.
Pay what you agreed to pay
Farmers are sometimes told one price when agreeing to grow a crop, and later told that they will receive much less. Buyers should always honour the price that was agreed on; a fair price, reflecting the true cost of farming.
A farmer spoke to us about his experiences growing for supermarkets - but only on the condition that it was anonymous. He grew 60 tonnes of salad potatoes for a large UK supermarket. Upon harvest, the supermarket decided they were no longer interested in that specific variety, and cancelled the order - leaving a huge amount of food with no home, and the farmer financially screwed.
Almost half (49%) of British fruit and veg farmers fear they will go out of business within the next 12 months. 75% report that supermarket behaviour is a leading factor.* Farmers live with constant uncertainty; never knowing what they will be paid or when, how much of a crop will be bought, or whether it will be rejected altogether.
Riverford are farmers ourselves, so we know this first-hand. And after years of being treated badly by supermarkets, we found a way to do things better. Over the last 35 years, we've created a revolutionary supply chain for our veg boxes that is transparent and fair to all.
Now we want all UK farmers to enjoy the same conditions we do. That's why we're encouraging major supermarkets to commit to the principles enshrined in our Fair to Farmers Charter, and get fair about farming.
Who are Riverford?
Riverford delivers organic veg boxes directly to homes across the UK, fresh from our own organic farms and grower friends.
Before we started delivering veg boxes, we sold most of our organic veg to supermarkets. The relationships we had with buyers were unbalanced, short-term, wasteful, and abusive.
As our business grew, we became a substantial buyer ourselves - mostly from small family farms, many of whose commercial future and prosperity are dependent on us.
That's why we created our Fair to Farmers Charter, setting down the principles that have allowed us to create fair, beneficial relationships with our suppliers - protecting those principles forever.
Help us call for change
We're writing an open letter to the supermarkets, calling for change - but government support is vital too. Add your voice to ours by signing our petition. It's quick, easy, and will make a big difference. We're aiming for 100,000 signatures so that this can be debated in Parliament.