The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has responded to a call for evidence from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to help inform the National Food

Strategy, highlighting the crucial role that convenience stores play in providing food to their local communities.

The National Food Strategy is intended to be an over-arching strategy for government to ensure that the food system delivers safe, healthy, affordable food, is robust in the face of future shocks and is a thriving contributor to urban and rural economies, delivering well-paid jobs and supporting innovative producers and manufacturers across the country.

The 2019 ACS Local Shop Report revealed that 38% of convenience stores trade in isolated locations with no other retail/service businesses nearby.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores have a unique reach into the communities that they serve and play a vital role in ensuring that their customers have access to healthy foods.

“This is particularly notable in isolated communities where their local shop is the only place for people to get everyday groceries for miles around. Local shops have a positive impact on their communities, investing in their stores to improve the service and product offer and we have also seen retailers engaging in a number of healthy eating initiatives such as Peas Please, Healthy Start and Change4Life.”

Findings from the 2019 Local Shop Report revealed that convenience retailers invested £633m in the stores over the last year, 36% of which was spent on refrigeration to provide more fresh food.

ACS has worked closely with the Food Foundation’s Peas Please initiative, promoting best practice in the sale of fruit and vegetables through the sponsorship of fresh produce awards at three major events in the convenience sector.