Two Southland couples are heading to Europe on a farming exchange they hope will help improve their farming practices.
Euan and Linda Templeton and Peter and Joy Horrell, who supply livestock to Alliance Group, will travel to the UK and Ireland on Thursday.
During a two-week trip the couples will visit plants, farms, researchers, processors and UK supermarket giant Sainsbury's.
Alliance Group is the major supplier of New Zealand lamb to Sainsbury's through New Zealand Farmers Ltd and supplies up to 70 per cent of Sainsbury's lamb requirements.
The Templetons farm sheep and beef on a 545ha at Waimatuku near Riverton and the Horrells farm sheep and beef on a 300ha block at Tuatapere.
Both couples said they were looking forward to meeting European producers and farmers to learn about farming techniques, research, compliance, regulatory issues and sheep breeding.
Euan Templeton said the trip would help bridge his gap of knowledge between farm and plate.
He was also interested in the sales and marketing techniques used in Sainsbury stores.
Alliance Group general manager of livestock Murray Behrent said the visit was part of an ongoing partnership and supply arrangement with Sainsbury's and its commitment to the company's Pure South Producer Group.
The Group was formed two years ago to help strengthen the relationship between Alliance suppliers and its overseas customers and provides an opportunity for interaction.
"With consumers showing more interest in where their food comes from, retailers are taking a greater interest in farming in New Zealand.
"As a cooperative, we're a firm believer in helping our suppliers gain further insights into processing and retail operations in our key markets," Behrent said.
The UK was an important market for Alliance and it was showing signs of a recovery, he said.
It will be the second group of Kiwi suppliers to travel to the UK as part of the exchange scheme.
- The Southland Times