Retailers Need To Commit More To British Beef

UK - The UK's National Farmers' Union has called for retailers to show more commitment to sourcing British beef and lamb after the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) published its latest figures for the amount of British beef and lamb found on supermarket shelves.
calendar icon 1 April 2010
clock icon 3 minute read
National Farmers Union

The figures published this week represent the amount of chilled and fresh beef and lamb seen on supermarket shelves during the month rather than sales.

Morrisons, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer have shown a continued commitment to British beef with both displaying 100 per cent fresh beef in stores while Aldi and Lidl have both shown a 100 per cent commitment.

The EBLEX figures also show an increase in the amount of British beef on sale at Asda, up from 42 per cent to 65 per cent, and Sainsbury’s has also demonstrated an upward trend. However, the report shows a small decrease in the availability of British beef in Tesco stores, although they are still showing over 80 per cent British. Lamb figures vary because of seasonal availability and buying policy.

The report shows that Marks and Spencer were displaying only four per cent of British lamb on its shelves when the samples were taken – a massive reduction from 50 per cent this time last year. Somerfield, Waitrose and to a lesser extent Sainsbury’s and Tesco have also displayed disappointing levels of British lamb on their shelves. On a more positive note, Asda have maintained their levels of British lamb despite seasonality with figures showing 70 per cent British.

NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said: “The NFU would like to see greater commitment across the board for sourcing British beef and lamb.

"Given the right signals British producers are willing and able to satisfy any demand. Some supermarkets have 100 per cent British beef and high percentages of lamb on their shelves and I believe others could stock more and show further commitment to British producers.

"We have been critical of Asda in the past but as this report demonstrates the percentage of British beef on display has increased which is a step in the right direction and has to be good news for the farmer and the consumer.

"I am concerned about some of the lamb figures shown and it’s particularly disappointing to see considerable percentage drops, year on year, from the likes of Marks and Spencer, Somerfield and Waitrose. The present lamb trade is heavily influenced by currency and the export market.

"However, in order to safeguard the long term sustainability of the sector and in order to help it cope with future currency changes, it’s vital that British retailers look at their buying policy and show greater commitment to domestic supply.

"I understand that retailers operate different buying policies but I would like to sit down with them individually and discuss ways in which we can increase levels of British lamb all year round.

"While I do recognise the improvements that have been made and welcome them as a step in the right direction I believe that there are good reasons for increased support for British production. I would urge retailers to continue their commitment to sourcing British.”

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