Sustain / Jobs

Local Food Retail Coordinator

Job title Local Food Retail Coordinator
Organisation Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming

Gross Annual Salary

£41,980 Full time pro rata (post offered at 0.8 - 1 FTE). This is a pay level 6 salary. This salary increases annually in April each year according to Sustain’s Payscale and progression (subject to satisfactory performance). In addition, Sustain matches pension contributions up to 5% of gross salary.


0.8-1 FTE / 4-5 days per week


Role is office-based in Cambridge Heath, London. Sustain offers working from home up to half of working hours, on request and subject to agreement after probation.

Position type

Permanent contract (2 years funding secured)

Annual Leave

31 days Annual Leave if full time (comprises of 20 days Basic Annual Leave + FTE proportion of public hols + office closures) rising annually by 2 days to a top limit of 36 days.  

Closing date

10am, Monday 9 January 2023


Contact email

Equal opportunities

Sustain is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive employer, including recruiting for diversity. Recruitment for this role comes under Sustain’s Ethnicity Confident and Disability Confident schemes, which means that people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, or with a disability, will be guaranteed a first-stage interview if you meet all the essential criteria for the role. Read more about our approach to recruiting for diversity here.

Right to Work

Entitlement to work in the UK. You will need to hold the necessary rights/visa to work in the UK, Sustain is not able to assist with applications for work permits.

Other details

Cycle to Work scheme available on salary sacrifice basis.

About Sustain

Sustain is a powerful alliance bringing together around 100 organisations nationally – and hundreds more at local and regional level. We believe everyone should have access to healthy and sustainably produced food that protects people, animals and planet. Working together, we run highly effective and creative campaigns, advocacy, networks and demonstration projects, aiming to catalyse permanent changes in policy and practice, and to help equip more people and communities with skills as change-makers.

About Sustain’s work on Local Food

Sustain’s alliance has a long history working on local food in all its forms, from the groundbreaking work on food miles in the 1990s, the award-winning report Eating Oil, helping steer the multi-million pound Lottery programmes supporting Local Food in the early 21st century, or more recently making the Case for Local Food to inform the Government’s Food Strategy, and establishing the huge desire from farmers to sell through more local and farmer focused supply.

Local food has always been more than just the proximity between farm and consumer, but about the myriad benefits that are associated with many of the models that embody the local food ethos, accompanied by a social structure and supply chain different from the large-scale supermarket system.

Localised food systems can play a huge part in community renewal, providing more and better jobs in neighbourhoods, delivering more money into local economies, delivering more for climate and nature on farms, and creating more responsive and adaptable supply chains.

Localised food systems open routes to market for farmers and are more likely to source and supply food from agroecological farms, reduce emissions from transport, refrigeration and waste, and support more mixed farming systems.

Why now?

Importantly, as farmers navigate reform of agricultural payment schemes, localised food systems that support, and are responsive to, sustainable farming and action for biodiversity and climate, can provide vital sources of extra income and stability, benefitting rural communities. Not only this, by creating closer relationships between producers and consumers, local food economies help engage people with food systems and foster greater awareness and responsibility for its impacts.

Many have seen recent crises as a wakeup call to the fragilities of our overcentralised and overstretched supply chains. Huge queues for food banks, empty shelves, gaps in supply, panic buying, and farmers forced to dump food, all shine a light on the weaknesses, damaging environmental impact and injustice in our supply chains. This has clearly highlighted the need for us to reassess and realign how people connect to food systems and how they can have more power, leverage and resilience at a local level. At the same time, we have also seen increased demand for food from more localised, sustainable and independent retail and other forms of supply, often supporting smaller scale agroecological farming in the UK as seen in the growth of box schemes during lockdown for example.

The dominance of a handful of supermarkets has created a power imbalance that presents severe challenges to food producers – catalysing the trend towards larger farms, monocultures, less farm-scale diversity, with just-in-time pressures and cosmetic standards leading to large-scale waste and destruction of habitats and nature. Economically and environmentally sustainable farming is possible on a large scale but struggles to compete under cut-throat supermarket pressure.

Alternative routes to market have not had a collective voice or plan, let alone the concerted policy support, investment and profile to compete. This is what we plan to address.

About the project

Overarching aim: To develop a multi-organisational programme to catalyse better, fairer and more resilient trading in local food, to support nature friendly farmer-focused supply chains across the UK.

Over the first two years of the project, the Coordinator will oversee and ensure delivery of the following work strands:

  1. Growth Plan (WS1)

Develop a growth plan for increased retail market share for non-multiples over the next 10 years, to help diversify supply chains and drive routes to market for agroecological produce. Note: We are not suggesting we can deliver it in full alone, rather we will advocate that Government, local and regional authorities, entrepreneurs, local development funders and other players adopt and implement this. This plan should include:

  • A targeted increase in the number of enterprises active in direct/short supply chains and the percentage of local, sustainably produced food sold, with a focus on socially motivated enterprise.
  • An increase in the number of farms (adopting and using agroecological methods) able to sell into diversified trading outlets and platforms, thereby reaching new local retail and trading mechanisms.
  • Identification of gaps in critical food infrastructure across the UK e.g., abattoirs, processors, storage and refrigeration, packing, logistics and delivery, hubs, IT systems; and prioritising investment in those areas with best potential to support growth in diversifying farm to retail opportunities.
  • Attention to communities/locations most in need of renewal and where food can play a key role, rather than only affluent parts of the UK.
  1.  Advocacy for Local Food Infrastructure Fund and other relevant policy levers (WS2):

Encourage other investors to support the growth plan (WS1) through investment, ideally as a formal Local Food Infrastructure Fund for the UK. This would also include advocacy to get Government, local and regional authorities to adopt the growth plan and targets. We would encourage investment at a local level (e.g. through local authorities and Local Economic Partnerships), sector specific, national level (e.g. UK Shared Prosperity Fund) as well as through other charitable, public and innovative private finance and impact investors.

  1. Research/Evaluation (WS3):

a. Track the market share for non-multiple retail and as well as subset within this that is from farmer-focused enterprises.

b. Develop metrics that are persuasive to socially motivated investors and decision-makers: Benefits of these supply chains to agroecological and climate-friendly land management, farm incomes and resilience, and indicators of social and economic benefits, such as jobs, job security and quality, multiplier effect, purchase and consumption of healthier foods.

c. Provide economic models of change: analysis of money flow in supply chains and building on good practice examples, and how these could respond to the changes needed to deliver on climate and nature targets, and for community wealth building.

The project has some budget secured to bring in support for WS1 (to support writing and consultation of the Growth Plan) and WS3 (collection of data). We envisage that future phases of the programme would include amongst other strands: securing investment for the sector; delivery of the Growth Plan; detailed mapping to identify localised needs and opportunities; national and local advocacy for complimentary policies; a large-scale public communications, media and marketing campaign.

Tasks and responsibilities

The Coordinator will have a varied and exciting workload, and will work in collaboration with Sustain’s senior management, Sustain staff, and project partners.

The Coordinator’s responsibilities will include:

  • Overseeing the development and completion of a national Growth Plan for Local Food Retail (WS1) and recruitment of a consultant to support the writing and consultation of this plan.
  • Advocacy for local food with Defra, DLUHC and BEIS in follow-up to Government’s National Food Strategy and Levelling Up White Papers, and UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
  • Advocacy for Government involvement in development of growth plan (WS1) and ideally adoption of it.
  • Advocacy for creation of Local Food Infrastructure Fund and changes in other relevant policy areas including planning policy/guidance and skills/training.
  • Recruiting a data partner, and working with them to establish methodology for data collection and baseline.
  • Work with partners and colleagues to develop metrics linked to local food systems that are persuasive to socially motivated investors and decision-makers.
  • Work with partners and colleagues to provide economic models of change and analysis of money flow in supply chains.
  • Establishing and running a governing group for this project as part of wide stakeholder engagement to aid delivery of the above roles.

The Coordinator will also:

  • Lead on fundraising activities to continue this programme beyond the first two years, and to raise investment for the sector and towards the identified actions in the Growth Plan. Also to support fundraising efforts at Sustain to enhance, extend campaigns or develop new ones, contributing ideas and expertise to fundraising initiatives that may be of benefit to programme partners.
  • Undertake media and communications work: updating project partners, stakeholders and supporters on your work and related local food activities, as well as engaging with the media to promote local food.
  • Support and occasionally lead on engagement with Parliament and consultations on local food and related areas.
  • Actively identify ways to support diverse groups through their work, in line with Sustain’s policy on improving diversity in the food movement, including supporting racial and socio-economic justice.
  • Maintain excellent financial and other records, to help with accountability and open to public and funder scrutiny. The Coordinator will work with Sustain’s finance and management team to report to the funder, relevant project working parties and sub-groups, and the Sustain Council of Trustees (who ultimately also report to Sustain alliance members).
  • Contribute to the mutually supportive culture of Sustain, among the staff team, and project participants.

The post holder will also undertake any other responsibilities in connection with the work that may arise from time to time, which may in the future include line management responsibilities.

Personal specification

Sustain is seeking a creative and experienced individual with fantastic team working skills who shares our commitment to local and sustainable food, and who has the following skills and experience:


  • Background and experience in the food sector preferably with demonstrable experience and interest in local food systems and commitment to sustainable food
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills in fluent spoken and written English
  • Ability to work independently, with high levels of self-motivation
  • Good project management, time management and organisational skills and the ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines
  • Energy, enthusiasm, creativity and tenacity
  • Good experience of engaging with a wide range of stakeholders in the formation of a shared vision, plan or programme
  • Experience of establishing and running a governance structure for a multi-stakeholder programme
  • Demonstrable commitment to diversity and inclusion


  • Experience of working effectively to influence policy and/or campaigning for change
  • Experience of working in, or with, the food retail sector
  • Experience of establishing metrics to track change and impact over time
  • Experience of writing a detailed vision or plan which would impact multiple stakeholders
  • Experience of organising online or in person events


Diversity matters to us. Sustain has a working environment where we value and respect every individual's unique contribution. Diversity helps us identify where change is needed and what is required to promote equity as well as reflect the concerns of our wide alliance of members.

We are committed to equality of opportunity and welcome applications from individuals, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic background, religion and/or belief. We are happy to discuss and consider flexible working at the point of hire.

A list of Sustain’s policies, including our commitment to diversity are on our website. We are happy to discuss and consider flexible working at the point of hire and our approach to recruiting for diversity is described in detail here.

Sustain is recruiting for this role as part of our Ethnicity Confident and Disability Confident schemes. This means that applicants who meet all of the essential criteria, and who let us know voluntarily that you would like to be considered in this way, will be guaranteed a first-stage interview. The opportunity to tell us you would like to be considered din this way is included in our Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form.

The Coordinator will contribute to the mutually supportive culture of Sustain (including staff and project participants) in which equality and diversity are not just respected but promoted.

Visit our website here for some useful advice if you are applying for a job at Sustain.

How to apply

To apply for this position, please email the following:

- a CV (maximum two pages)
- a Covering Letter telling us about your experience and how this relates to the personal specification (maximum two pages)
- a completed Equal Opportunities Monitoring form

Note: The Equal Opportunities Monitoring form includes the opportunity to tell us if you would your application to be considered as part of the Ethnicity Confident or Disability Confident schemes.

As we are recruiting for several positions over this period, please put Local Food Retail Coordinator in the subject line of your covering email along with your name.

Deadline: 10am, Monday 9 January 2023

First stage interviews for this position will take place (virtually) the week commencing 23 January 2023, with second stage interviews taking place in person the week commencing 30 January 2023 if needed. Please indicate in your application if you are not available either of these weeks, although we cannot guarantee we can accommodate requests for alternative timings.

The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

020 3559 6777

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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