11-12-2013 10:54 AM | Cattle, News, Pigs, Sheep, Supermarkets

Supermarkets step up to the mark after Horsegate



Supermarkets step up to the mark after Horsegate
Two surveys researching the amount of British meat on supermarket shelves has shown retailers have increased their support for UK-farmed pork, lamb and beef over the past 12 months.

The Porkwatch survey, which is conducted every two months, records the number of product lines that supermarkets allocate to British pork. And latest figures released by EBLEX have revealed the average percentage of British beef and lamb on shelves has shown a marked improvement.

In November, 83% on average of beef stocked in retailers' stores was British with lamb standing at 88%. Both of these figures are up on the previous month, with lamb at one of the highest levels seen in recent years.

All retailers have increased their British lines in some categories and some have improved across the board, selling more British pork, bacon, ham and sausages.


“These results show that retailers are listening to their customers,” said National Pig Association acting general manager Lizzie Press.

“We are delighted with the current trend because it is allowing pig farmers to reinvest in their businesses after three very difficult years caused by high feed costs.”

NPA chairman Richard Longthorp said, “Shoppers often used to choose British meat where possible, but Horsegate has proved a game-changer and now many are insisting it must be British. We are grateful to retailers for the way they have stepped up to the mark, even when cheaper imported product has been available.”

Notable among retailers for their long-term support of British-farmed meat are Waitrose and M&S, both achieving 100 percent British, or very near it, in all pork and pork product categories.

The Porkwatch survey is conducted on behalf of English pig industry levy board BPEX.

Morrisons, through its commitment to British sourcing, had the highest levels of British beef and lamb facings in store.

Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are all continuing to choose British but Asda is still the worst performer of the major retailers.

NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “It’s clear that retailers are now starting to recognise the importance of promoting farm assured Red Tractor British beef and lamb which we know more consumers want to buy.

“These latest figures show improvements across the board although some supermarkets are still doing better than others. I’m pleased to see Tesco improving its commitment to British lamb although it’s disappointing that the levels of British beef on the shelves have fallen in the past few months.

“While there have been improvements, it’s clear that more needs to be done and the NFU remains committed to working with all retailers to improve their commitment to sourcing British.”

NFU President Peter Kendall said: “Retailers are worrying about where they will get their food from, not in 20 years’ time, but in the next 10 years and we are finally starting to make them think they need to plan for both the long and short term”.

This was the message put to members of Monmouthshire NFU Cymru at their annual county conference held last week. Peter continued, “Retailers are taking an interest in where their food comes from, not just because the horsemeat surveys have shown that people want to buy British, but because the population of this Island is set to increase to 73million by 2050 and retailers will need to look closer to home in order to feed the increasing population.”

Meurig Raymond, NFU Deputy President, at the Montgomeryshire Annual Conference said: “British food is back on the agenda with consumers on the farmers’ side wanting Britishness and wanting shorter supply chains. This has made retailers and processors sit up and listen to their customers and are making promises to put British produce on their shelves."

Raymond, who farms in Pembrokeshire, said, “It’s clear that retailers are increasingly recognising the importance of promoting British and local provenance which we know more consumers want to buy. The latest figures on beef & lamb show improvements across the board although some supermarkets are still doing better than others. I’m pleased to see Tesco improving its commitment to British lamb although it’s disappointing that the levels of British beef on the shelves has fallen in the past few months.

The fact that Morrisons is consistently stocking both 100% British beef and lamb is a shining example that I hope other retailers will follow. More needs to be done though across the board and the NFU remains committed to working with all retailers to improve their commitment to sourcing British.”

Looking to the future Mr Raymond commented that success was very much in the hands of our young people. He said, “Youngsters see food and farming rising back up the agenda and I’m pleased to see that more and more of the younger generation want to be part of our industry in the future. It’s the younger generation that make the industry so successful.

“There are great opportunities on the horizon for younger farmers. We hear that the UK population is estimated to increase by 11 million by 2025. That’s just 12 harvests away. Also, the western diet is spreading to China and our youngsters can see the long term opportunities available as these countries with huge populations become more affluent and move towards a western style diet.

The NFU Deputy President told the crowd of local farmers gathered that the agriculture industry isn’t without its issues and challenges however. Mr Raymond said, “CAP reform will inevitably introduce change and one of the issues we’re facing is a possible considerable shift in money from the single payment to wider rural development measures. This ‘transfer’ or modulation as we better know it, of money from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 is something we continue to fundamentally disagree with. We believe that by imposing higher modulation rates on farmers here in Wales compared to our European counterparts, places us at a competitive disadvantage in what is after all a single European market.”

Jonathan Wilkinson, NFU Cymru Montgomeryshire Chairman, also addressed the meeting with his thoughts from his year in office, he thanked Meurig Raymond for his positive messages about the future and Ed Bailey for all his work during his time as President of NFU Cymru, in particular the work done with the Welsh Government on the current round of CAP reform. Mr Wilkinson finished by thanking HSBC Bank for sponsoring the event.

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