Illegal supermarket displays are holding back price improvement for Scottish beef industry.

UK - Scottish supermarkets are blatantly flouting EU rules on retail display and single-mindedly ignoring efforts by Local Authorities, farmers, and consumers to bring them in line.
calendar icon 16 January 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

So says the National Beef Association which is astonished at the level of rule breaking by multiples determined to continue with the co-mingling, or mixing, of beef from different countries in the same section of shelf space.

“Some of the most obvious of the illegal displays are in Scotland where shelf edge promotion loudly proclaims that only Scotch beef is on offer,” explained NBA policy advisor, Kim Haywood.

“However closer investigation reveals that small pockets of beef from the Republic of Ireland , Brazil or Argentina are covered by the same promotion material and the only way consumers can be sure of what they are buying is to examine the label on each beef pack when they are making their selection.”

“This law breaking works against the Scottish farmer and the Scottish processor because the retailer finds it easier to drag more margin out of cheaper imported beef if it is mixed up with the more expensive domestic product.”

“It also defeats expensive Scottish industry efforts to raise more income from the production and sale of Scotch beef because deliberately created confusion about the origins of the product on offer makes it difficult for retailers to discover just how much more money informed consumers would be willing to pay for Scotch beef with all its environmental and quality credentials.”

According to the NBA some stores are not even bothering to keep beef from different countries separated by the width of a plastic strip and are selling it bran tub style from the same pick and mix section of the chill cabinet.

“We have seen premium beef displays where steak from as many as four countries is hopelessly intermingled and some consumers who have intended to buy Scotch beef will undoubtedly have picked out imported beef by mistake,” said Ms Haywood.

“This is completely against the advice of LACORS (Local Authority Co-ordination Office on Regulatory Services) which with NBA encouragement warned retailers last year that beef from different countries of origin had to be physically separated.”

“Even after a challenge by the supermarkets through the British Retail Consortium, specialists at LACORS have continued to warn supermarkets which sell mixed origin beef in the same display that they must put up notices cautioning customers of this.”

“And there have also been quite specific warnings from LACORS that shelf edge signage suggesting that all beef on display is of single country origin, like Scotch, must not be used if beef from other countries is also presented for sale.”

“The NBA has seen many examples of mixed origin beef being offered for sale but has yet to see any of these notices.”

“Supermarket determination to continue to mix beef from different countries without adequate advice to consumers is illegal and must be stopped.”

“Every beef farmer in Scotland should take notice of this because co-mingling is holding back attempts to establish a higher value for his product. Complaints can be made directly to the local Environmental Health office and a prosecution should result,” Ms Haywood added.

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