Royal Agricultural University and Morrisons announce research and education partnership

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and food retailer Morrisons have launched an education and research based partnership which will benefit the wider farming industry.

The announcement was made at an event at the Royal Agricultural University’s historic campus in Cirencester, attended by notable local and community figures and representatives from the RAU and Morrisons. This event followed on from the success of the House of Commons launch in London last week – which saw invited dignitaries and parliamentarians applaud the initiative.

The Royal Agricultural University and Morrisons have announced a long-term partnership to develop education, research and development projects, and training initiatives. Each partner will benefit from the expertise and understanding of the other, and the partnership has the potential through its work to inform and benefit the agricultural and food production industries across the whole food supply chain. Both organisations have a commitment to sustainable systems, and to British agriculture and food.

The Partnership will provide the students and staff of the RAU valuable insights into the commercial realities of the food supply chain and an understanding of modern retail perspectives and needs.  In turn, Morrisons will benefit by having access to the research expertise of the RAU and the stimulus of working closely with knowledgeable graduates in agriculture, food and related subjects.

Morrisons has a vertically integrated supply chain which includes its own farms, abattoirs and food manufacturing facilities in addition to its stores across the country.  Its links to commercial farming puts Morrisons in a unique position and ideal for involvement with the specialist university with commitments to production agriculture, food, land management and agri-business.

Principal of the Royal Agricultural University, Professor Chris Gaskell said: “We are delighted to be involved in a partnership with a retailer who shares our involvement in British farming and commitment to sustainability.  Over time this partnership has the potential to yield information which will be relevant to the wider agricultural industry across the world.  This is an exciting and unique project and we look forward to producing results for the benefit of the whole supply chain.”

Morrisons Group Corporate Services Director, Martyn Jones said: “We at Morrisons are keen to develop sustainable practices, and the RAU has the specialist resources and commitment that will help to improve the Morrisons business through innovation and the development of best practice.  We have long held an interest in British farming and the partnership with the RAU will further reinforce this commitment.”

As an initial step the RAU will work with Morrisons on applied research projects to support Morrisons farm supply base, including, for example, animal welfare and production.  Morrisons has already committed to creating up to five annual fully funded postgraduate internships for RAU students across the food supply chain, and will provide opportunities for RAU students to obtain experience across the range of Morrisons’ activities, including work experience, teaching opportunities and project work. In addition, the retailer will use the RAU’s food development kitchen to train its in-store butchers, bakers and fishmongers in the craft skills needed to serve customers in store, opportunities that will also be available to students.

Professor Gaskell added: “The partnership directly involves our students, offering experience with a potential employer and valuable first-hand experience in the commercial food supply chain.  In terms of the benefits and impact for our agricultural students and graduates this is a remarkable initiative, and one which grow to the benefit of everyone.”