Welcome for Tesco pledge on UK meat

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Scottish farming leaders yesterday welcomed a commitment by supermarket giant Tesco to purchase more beef and pork from British farmers, especially as the supply contracts will be for a three-year period.

The contracts are estimated to be worth an additional £25 million to British agriculture and they will see the retailer create two new groups. These will be run by committees of farmers, which will guarantee beef farmers an above market price for their meat and a price linked to the cost of feed for pork farmers.

NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker said the initiative to build a long-term relationship with some beef and pork farmers for specialised lines was welcomed.

“We believe that by working closer together a sustainable production chain can be developed that will be of benefit to Tesco, farmers and the consumer,” he said. “True collaboration can reward the whole supply chain.”

He admitted the premium offered by Tesco was likely to be less attractive to farmers in Scotland and the north of England than those in the south, but the principle of long-term relationships with all suppliers was something he hoped to see develop in the future.

“Scotch Beef will remain the iconic premium product and we look forward to continuing to work with Tesco to ensure that Scotch Beef is a choice available to Tesco consumers throughout the UK and that the price reflects the grass-fed specialist beef production that underpins the Scotch brand.”

Derek Lawlor, meat, fish and poultry director at Tesco, said: “Pig farmers have been under pressure with significant rises in feed prices so it means a great deal to work in partnership with them and British beef farmers to help secure the industry’s future in this country.”

National Pig Association chairman Richard Longthorp said: “The NPA applauds Tesco for developing its sustainable pig group and working directly with pig farmers. Creating this direct relationship with its pig farmers will bring an unprecedented level of transparency to the pricing of pigs and pork from farm to fork.”