Sainsbury's Must Back The UK Beef Industry Says NBA

FARMING UK - Sainsbury's cannot claim it is strongly supporting UK beef farmers if by its own admission at least 24 per cent of its fresh beef is imported from the Republic of Ireland (ROI).
calendar icon 31 July 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

So says the National Beef Association which is unhappy with Sainsbury's import record compared with Morrisons, which sells 97-98 per cent British, and Tesco which is currently selling up to 94 per cent British with less than one per cent from the ROI.

"If Morrisons and Tesco are heroes of the UK beef industry because of their positive commitment to home produced cattle then Sainsbury's poor import record must make it a villain," said NBA chairman Duff Burrell.

"It is disputing this by emphasising its commitment to British purchases for its high flying minority ranges like organic, stores with an in-shop butchers counters, and its premium Taste the Difference brand, but ignores the fact that its highest volume ranges are supplied almost equally by British and Republic of Ireland beef – which are each retailed at exactly the same price."

And the NBA is also annoyed that Sainsbury's mixes beef of British and Irish origin and appears unwilling to help consumers choose between the products offered on its shelves.

"Sainsbury's seems to be doing its best to blur the distinction between imported and home produced beef even though it is abundantly clear that more consumers are showing greater interest in the domestic product and are ready to pay more for it than they would for imports," said Mr Burrell.

"If it continues to do this it will not only be flying in the face of an important new consumer trend it will also be working against the interests of its UK beef suppliers - who it claims to support through premium payments."

"If Sainsbury's is genuine about informing consumer choice, and supporting its many UK farm suppliers, it should concentrate harder on raising the value of home produced beef and do more to encourage consumers to buy it."

"The NBA has no doubt that current UK prime cattle averages are disappointingly low as a result of import pressure from Sainsbury's - not least because imported Irish beef is taken from cattle that are anything from £75-£115 a head cheaper than British even though it is retailed at the same price."

"But Sainsbury's, which has talked for some time about raising its commitment to UK sourced beef, and has a poor record over Irish imports, has still to show that its words and actions match," Mr Burrell added.

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