A group of Northern Ireland's (NI) top farming talent - and future industry leaders - recently participated in a behind-the-scenes tour of Asda.

Eighteen representatives from the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) Next Generation Forum visited Asda in Portadown to better understand the 'complexities and challenges faced by the supermarket' which has 17 stores and a distribution centre in NI, Asda said in a statement.

Thanking the group for their interest and time, Asda’s senior director for NI, George Rankin said:

As a business, which has always prioritised its commitment to the local agri-food sector, we were delighted to welcome this group of highly informed ‘next gen’ farmers to our store.

“Their interest was obvious, not just from a farming perspective, but in terms of our entire operation, including how we approach sustainability and minimise our environmental impact.

Central to our discussion was the supply chain and how it works on a day-to-day basis to ensure we deliver for our customers, within their budgets, on a 24/7 basis. It is vital that we ensure this two-way communication channel remains open so we are all better informed.”

Commenting on the benefits of the visit, James McCluggage, policy manager of the UFU said:

This was a highly informative and interesting tour that I would encourage all UFU members to try and do.

"It provided a fascinating insight in how a supermarket works. It was also particularly useful to see how Asda is ever changing to drive efficiencies while meeting new customer demands and buying habits, and also  working towards being  more environmentally sustainable.

A team of farmers from the UFU’s Next Generation Forum pictured during their visit to Asda Portadown, along with hosts, George Rankin, senior director and Joe McDonald, Asda’s corporate affairs manager for NI

“As a group, we were particularly pleased to see Asda’s support for local agri-food companies and its genuine commitment to buy and source local.”