Dovecote Park at the Waitrose Farming Conference

We were delighted to see the hard work of some of our producers recognized at the 8th Waitrose Farming Conference, held on November 1st at the Telford International Centre. 

November 1st saw over 450 Waitrose producers, staff, suppliers, and trade representatives gather at the Telford International Centre for the 8th Waitrose Farming Conference, one of the most important events on the calendar for farmers who supply product to the supermarket.

This year’s conference was the first for Rob Collins in his role as Managing Director of Waitrose, having taken over the role from Mark Price in April. In his inaugural address, Rob highlighted Waitrose’s ‘industry leading standards’ and named Dovecote Park as an example of one of the suppliers whose partnership with Waitrose has been crucial to the retailers success, and ‘the envy of many’. Robs speech focused on the concept of Modern Waitrose, which is central to his vision as Managing Director, and he highlighted the success of the Waitrose1 range – for which we launched and rebranded a number of products – and Waitrose’s market leading operating margin, as evidence of the continuing success of Modern Waitrose. 

The crowd were also addressed by Rupert Thomas, Waitrose Marketing Director, Meurig Raymond, President of the National Farmers Union and Andrew Saunders, Agricultural Director of Dalehead Foods, who talked in detail about the ongoing work being done to introduce non GM soya from Europe into the Waitrose animal feed supply chain.

The highlight of the day for many was the Farmer Awards, judged by an independent panel of experts. We were extremely pleased to see a number of Dovecote Park suppliers amongst the winners and nominees. Gary Gray (pictured), who supplies cattle to our Aberdeen Angus scheme, was Highly Commended in the category of Future Proofing, the judges recognizing his holding as, ‘adaptable, forward thinking and efficient’. The category of Inspiration and Leadership saw a tie, with the Nelless family, who supply Dovecote Park collecting joint winner.

The prize for Environmental Sustainability in the Livestock Sector was awarded to Dovecote supplier Sir Richard Sutton Estates, praised by the judges for their variety of conservation efforts - including lapwing areas and barn own boxes – and described as a ‘truly worthy winner’.

This years Farmer Awards saw the introduction of the new category of Young Farmer, which recognizes outstanding achievement by young farmers from throughout the Waitrose supply base. We were delighted to see Tom White, whose family have supplied Dovecote Park for many years, appear as a Highly Commended finalist in this category.

 Dovecote Park would like to congratulate all our producers who were recognized at this year’s conference, and extend our thanks to Waitrose for yet another successful event.