The NFU has criticised big supermarkets for not stocking enough British meat.

Eblex‘s Beef and Lamb Watch figures for October, which give a breakdown of chilled and fresh meat on supermarket shelves, show that several big names are stocking less British beef than this time last year—Asda only 42%, down from 64% in October 2008, Sainsbury’s 73%, down from 81%, and Tesco 89%, down from 92%.

Similarly, in terms of British lamb, Asda stocked 88% in October 2008, down from 93% a year ago, Sainsbury’s 96%, down from 100%, and Lidl 78%, down from 100%.

meat counter

In contrast, Waitrose, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer and the Co-op all displayed 100% British beef and lamb in October.

Alistair Mackintosh, livestock board chairman of the NFU, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see that [some supermarkets] are showing 100% British beef and lamb on their shelves.

‘However, it’s very disappointing that both Asda and Tesco aren’t stocking 100% British lamb. It’s unacceptable that major retailers are placing foreign lamb on the shelves during the autumn months, when domestic supply is plentiful.

‘British lamb is produced to some of the highest standards of quality and safety in the world. Consumers recognise this quality, and British producers are ideally placed to meet domestic demand. If some of the retailers can source 100% British beef and lamb, then I don’t see why they all can’t.’

cattle herd

The average amount of British beef displayed on supermarket shelves has fallen gradually over the year, from 83% in October 2008 to 81% in February 2009, 76% in May 2009 and then 74% in August and October 2009.

Mr Mackintosh added: ‘Pledges from supermarkets to stock as much British beef and lamb as possible send out the correct messages to producers to invest in production.

‘The beef industry has seen a declining national herd, and this kind of commitment would help secure domestic supply.’

To comment on this article, use the comment box below, or email us at clonews@ipcmedia.com. Read more about the countryside

For more news stories like this every week subscribe and save