Wal-Mart's UK supermarket chain Asda has awarded a contract to frozen food supplier Fullers Foods International to supply UK frozen vegetables for all its 274 stores in Britain.

Several thousand extra acres of UK vegetables will be grown as a result of the deal, which includes frozen broccoli, cauliflower and peas, Asda said. The company estimates that 120,000 food miles will be saved by switching its frozen vegetable contract to a UK grower base, and more than 80 jobs at Fullers' UK processing facility will also be secured.

The Fullers contract reinforces Asda's long-term commitment to UK farming at a time when other retailers are switching supply to Eastern Europe, it said. Under the terms of the agreement Asda will immediately increase the amount of UK vegetable it sources for its frozen products by 50%. Currently 90% of the food that ASDA sells that can be sourced from within the UK, is sourced from within the UK.

Asda also said the deal would be a lifeline to more than 80 farmers who will be contracted to grow vegetables specifically for Asda on a fixed price basis. This includes a group of 42 growers based in the Scottish borders, who together farm around 20,000 acres for Scottish Borders Produce. Following a number of years of instability in the frozen pea market, the Asda contract ensures a period of stability for SBP.

"The contract means our pea growers have a much brighter future. It will enable them to invest in their businesses and ensure that together we can supply the very best quality British peas for Asda's customers," said Andrew Letham, field manager at SBP

Asda's frozen vegetable general manager, Andrew Palfrey said, "This is a bold move that will deliver great quality and value to our customers whilst once again demonstrating our support for UK farmers."

Roger Welberry from EFW Ltd, chairman of the Holland Lincolnshire National Farmers' Union Vegetable Committee described the deal as great news for British farmers. "Asda's commitment to purchasing frozen vegetables from UK growers will give much more stability to the vegetable market," he said. "The supply agreement with Fullers gives growers a fixed price and fixed tonnage requirement prior to planting, and is a first in terms of its long-term commitment to UK growers for frozen veg."

In addition to the benefits to UK farmers and growers, the deal will also reduce road miles and congestion. All of the vegetables will be processed and packed through one hub site in the UK, which will provide the central supply route to all of ASDA's distribution centres. It is predicted that 120,000 food miles will be saved as a result of the deal.

Jason Fuller, sales director at Fullers Foods described the deal as a major step forward, he said: "This deal represents 30,000 tonnes of vegetables and is reward for over a year's worth of planning and hard work. We can now raise the bar in terms of improved quality, and ensure we always deliver 'Best Ever' availability for ASDA's customers, whilst helping to secure a future for our farmers."