Farmers: Supermarkets need to back British

Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket retailer, is under fire for failing to back British lamb. More than 60 NFU members staged a protest at Tesco’s stand at the Royal Welsh Show earlier this month about its promotion of New Zealand meat, despite it being the prime season for British grass-fed, spring-born lamb.

‘Livestock farmers are angry, disappointed and frustrated at the way some retailers are continuing to promote an end-of-season product, which many view as inferior, over Red Tractor-assured, fresh lamb produced in England and Wales,’ says the NFU’s Charles Sercombe.

He adds that many members feel Tesco has failed to honour a commitment to ‘be the best supporter of British farmers’ made by the chain’s outgoing chief executive, Philip Clarke, at last year’s NFU conference. The spat comes just weeks after the supermarket stated in response to a letter from the NFU that ‘with the large demand for lamb, we cannot always guarantee consistent UK stock’, a comment NFU president Meurig Raymond labels ‘ridiculous’. In its defence, Tesco says it will be running half-price promotions on British lamb over the coming weeks.

** This article was first published in Country Life magazine on July 30 2014

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