Food Policy

The Real Food Store is driven by a commitment to ethical and local food. We believe in trading with integrity; we pay our staff and producers fairly and believe in making good food accessible to all.

We prioritise local produce as it is fresher, better for the environment and strengthens our local economy.  We classify “local” as being from the county of Devon.  A second priority is “regional”, which we classify as from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

We also prioritise organic or ecologically-farmed food because these systems provide great biodiversity and environmental benefits and avoid the use of damaging chemicals.

We aim to supply a range of groceries to meet people’s daily food and household needs. We are sometimes restricted by availability and seasonality, which means we stock some products which are not certified organic, and which are not local.  We are always looking for alternatives and are open to suggestions on improvements we can make.

The graphic below sets out our purchasing policy in a simplified form.


Plant-based products

All our fresh fruit and veg are organic and GM free.

We are working towards removing products that include unsustainably-sourced palm-oil from our range.  This entails reviewing our product range and talking to suppliers about their use of palm oil. We are looking to replace products that currently contain palm oil when suitable alternatives are sourced, starting with those which don’t guarantee sustainable sources.

We never buy air-freighted goods, as we believe that this causes an unacceptable environmental impact.

You will find some non-local items on our shelves, because they are staples in a lot of homes and are necessary for a balanced diet.  Our aim is for all products sourced from outside the South-West to be organic and / or Fairtrade or at least sourced from producers that are actively working towards organic / Fairtrade status.

Some of our local suppliers of groceries (eg coffee, tea, spreads) do import ingredients from abroad that are not organic.  We want to support these businesses as they are part of a vibrant local economy and so we continue to buy from them, but we always weigh up whether there are other better alternatives available locally.

Livestock products

We recognise that the consumption of livestock products in our society needs radically to reduce because of the environmental impacts of most livestock farms.  We also believe that livestock are an important part of a healthy ecosystem and can produce food on land that is otherwise difficult to crop.  We therefore prioritise “ecological livestock” farming, which is 100% pasture-based or food residue-based, doesn’t rely on imported feedstock and is proven to be the least environmentally-damaging form of livestock production.

We source all our organic / ecological livestock products from within our region to stimulate the development of these farming systems as locally as possible.

We also offer a range of non-organic fresh meat and dairy products that are produced in Devon, to help deliver on our aim to provide affordable food and to support the local farming economy.  In these cases, we ensure that the farms that supply us practice extensive free-range systems and are working hard to minimise their environmental impacts.

We do not sell farmed fish or fish from species identified as at risk.

Waste and packaging

We aim for zero food waste and refuse to throw away food that can be eaten. Surplus or damaged produce is sold at a discount or returned to Shillingford to be recycled into fertiliser.

We aim to reduce packaging as far as possible, recycle all packaging that is used and provide alternatives to single-use packaging.

Supplier selection

All our suppliers are assessed on an individual basis. When looking at a potential new product line we will first consider where it has been produced, whether the producers are certified organic and/or Fairtrade and other measures that they are taking to trade in an ethical fashion. We are aware that small businesses are not always able to become organic/ Fairtrade certified and therefore on occasion we will stock products from these businesses, where we are confident they are operating in line with these standards.

July 2019