German retail giant Metro Group has insisted that a new sourcing strategy will “strengthen” smaller food manufacturers.

From 2012, the wholesale operator will change the way it buys fresh produce, such as fruit, vegetables, fish and meat.

Metro said that it would phase out the so-called “later income” – whereby the income on the originally agreed purchase price is calculated at the end of the year – for ultra-fresh produce.

The company – the world’s fourth-largest retailer – also plans to establish central procurement locations for direct sourcing. Metro will begin buying products directly from suppliers through five central buying offices in a variety of locations “from South America to Oceania”.

Metro insisted that the moves would benefit smaller suppliers as they would gain “added security and forward planning”. “The measures will tighten our relationship with local suppliers, better serve our customers with a wider product assortment and reduce costs,” a spokesperson for the company said.