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Asda Under Pressure To Sell British Beef

24 November 2009

UK - The National Beef Association (NBA) are putting pressure on UK supermarket Asda, to confirm exactly what proportion of teh fresh beef it sells is UK origin.

Asda, which last week re-declared its commitment to the UK beef industry despite the most recent national Beef Watch survey confirming that only 42 per cent of retail packs on its shelves was of UK origin, can clear up any misunderstanding about its position by volunteering to show exactly how much of the beef it sells is taken from UK cattle – and not imported.

This is the view of the National Beef Association which has already praised Morrisons, Waitrose, the Co-op, M&S and Lidl for offering only beef of British origin to their customers.

”Asda is one of the top four retail companies in the UK but the Beef Watch survey indicates, very strongly, that its loyalty towards British beef is abysmal – which by our reckoning makes it a core threat to the future of the UK industry,” explained the NBA’s director, Kim Haywood.

Asda has said that the 58 per cent of Republic of Ireland beef in retail packs on its shelves revealed by the survey does not necessarily reflect the proportion of the beef it sells which is British.

“The NBA accepts that fresh beef sold over its butcher’s counters, which is not included in the survey, may be British but only Asda can tell beef farmers whether or not this really is the case,” says Ms Haywood.

She added that the industry looks forward to hearing exactly what proportion of all its fresh beef sales, cross-counter was well as off-shelf, is of UK-origin and exactly how much is imported.

“The NBA is interested in the answer because the future for UK beef farmers is undermined by retailers who sell huge volumes of Irish beef - which is taken from cattle which are at least 13 per cent cheaper than the average British animal,” said Ms Haywood.

She continued to say that selling this discounted beef puts them in an extremely competitive position because they sell their beef for a better margin than companies which offer beef exclusively taken from cattle that are 13 per cent dearer.

“Only a substantial rise in the retail price, on a cross-UK basis, can generate enough income to keep the majority of farmers, and processors, in business and Asda, which Beef Watch shows to be the biggest of the large scale importers, is holding back this fundamentally important development,” Ms Haywood added.

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