UK: Tesco pledges to double Northern Ireland meat purchasing
By Michelle Russell | 14 March 2013
Tesco CEO Philip Clarke said it was important to “work more closely” with producers
UK retail giant Tesco has pledged to double the amount it spends on buying fresh beef, pork and chicken from farmers in Northern Ireland.
Speaking at the launch of Queen's University Belfast's Institute of Global Food Security, CEO Philip Clarke said it was important to "work more closely" with producers.
"The horsemeat issue has reinforced my view and has demonstrated that we have to move much more quickly than I first thought would be necessary. I am very clear that the best way to have more control of the meat supply chain is to produce more of it closer to home.
He added: "We know our customers' appetite for products from the UK and Ireland is greater than ever and we want to give them every opportunity to buy products produced locally. We already do a lot to support Northern Irish agriculture, but I think we can go even further."
Clarke said he aims to source as much of what it sells in Northern Ireland from the province.
"It's what our customers want, it's what we want," he said. "Within the next few weeks, we will go from sourcing less than 20% of the meat we sell here locally to around 90%. And we're not going to stop there - we're going to do everything within our power to get as close as we can to 100%."
Clarke's announcement comes weeks after he indicated Tesco would source more meat in the UK as it looks to tighten security down the supply chain in response to the horsemeat scandal. The CEO told the BBC's Today radio programme it will begin by offering two-year supply contracts in order to help promote a sustainable British agriculture sector.
Tesco was one of the first retailers to become embroiled in the horsemeat contamination scare when it emerged that its stores were selling private-label beefburgers and ready meals containing horse DNA. The company has responded by stepping up scrutiny of its supply chain and implementing a more stringent testing regime.
TESCO CEO vows to double amount of meat bought from Northern Ireland farmers.
Tesco CEO Philip Clarke has today announced that the supermarket will double the amount it spends on buying fresh beef, pork and chicken from Northern Ireland farmers.
Mr Clarke was speaking at the launch of Queen's University Belfast's £33M Institute of Global Food Security which will improve global food safety through the establishment of an international ‘food-fortress' in Belfast.
Speaking at the event, he said: "It's an honour to have been asked to launch the Institute for Global Food Security at Queens University Belfast. Northern Ireland can be proud that it is home to a world leading centre for the study of an issue which all of us in the food industry need to pay close attention to.
"I have always been of the view that we need to work more closely with producers. But the horsemeat issue has reinforced my view and has demonstrated that we have to move much more quickly than I first thought would be necessary. I am very clear that the best way to have more control of the meat supply chain is to produce more of it closer to home. We know our customers' appetite for products from the UK and Ireland is greater than ever and we want to give them every opportunity to buy products produced locally. We already do a lot to support Northern Irish agriculture, but I think we can go even further.
"My aim is to source as much of what we sell in Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland. It's what our customers want, it's what we want. So today I am pleased to announce that we are doubling the amount we spend on buying fresh beef, pork and chicken from Northern Ireland farmers. That will mean that within the next few weeks, we will go from sourcing less than 20% of the meat we sell here locally to around 90%. And we're not going to stop there - we're going to do everything within our power to get as close as we can to 100%."
Mr Clarke added: "The three pillars of safety, quality and authenticity on which this Institute is so focused have always been vital to grow a position in the food supply chain. But as I stand here today, they will be more important than ever. Everyone here has a part to play, and so does this new Institute at Queen's, and I wish it every success and will follow its development with interest."
Tesco is the largest customer for food producers on the island of Ireland buying £1 billion of foodstuffs each year. At today's launch Tesco's CEO Philip Clarke addressed an audience of 250 invited guests in the University's Riddel Hall on ‘Competing in a changing global food supply chain'. He also met representatives from leading food companies during a high-level roundtable discussion aimed at helping those present drive regional growth and competitiveness.
Mr Clarke also officially opened a new £2.5m laboratory. Housing state-of-the-art equipment provided by Waters Corporation, the multinational technology company, it will be capable of undertaking unique forms of testing in order to provide early warning of food contamination and adulteration. Waters will formally announce that the new Institute is to become one of only five worldwide to be granted the status of a ‘Waters Centre of Innovation'. The company will also honour the Institute's Director Professor Chris Elliott for the significance of his research in mass spectrometry for global food safety and security.
Speaking at the launch, Professor Elliott said: "As CEO of Tesco plc, Philip Clarke's attendance at Queen's today is testament to how significant this new Institute for Global Food Security is for the food sector, not just here in Northern Ireland, but worldwide. We want to build a ‘food-fortress', ensuring everything we import is of the highest quality and that what we sell locally and internationally is also 100 per cent safe, nutritious and authentic. This new Institute will ensure that we can continue to recruit the best students into our food programmes, creating the food-leaders of the future who have been trained in one of the world's best equipped research laboratories."
Queen's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: "Queen's formed the UK's first Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use in 2006, and since then we have quickly become internationally-recognised for our excellence in addressing complex food safety and quality issues. The opening of this new Institute today by Philip Clarke, Chief Executive of the world's third largest retailer, is yet another example of the impact Queen's research is having on the wider world, and how our research not only benefits the people and businesses of Northern Ireland but many more people the world over."
The Institute is a cornerstone of Queen's ambitious new Beyond fundraising campaign to raise £140 million over the next five years to support transformational projects. The Institute hopes to engage the support of leading local and international food producers, and the Waters Corporation is one such partner. Mike Harrington, Vice President, European & Asia Pacific Operations, Waters, said: "On behalf of Waters Corporation, I congratulate Queen's University Belfast for leading the way in global food security. Through our continuing collaboration with Queen's, we see a great opportunity to advance the analytical techniques of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry in support of food safety and security and, together, build a better future for generations to come."
Currently the production and processing of food plays a critical role in the Northern Ireland economy, with the sector providing 85,000 jobs and generating sales of £5.2 billion each year.
Leading retail analyst and Head of Research at Shore Capital, Dr Clive Black said: "The Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's is just so right for its time. Financial markets of all sorts - public equity, private equity, venture capital and wholesale lending - have been keenly alerted to the perils and opportunities posed by the integrity, quality and safety of food and its importance to business and industry performance. It has never been so important and for the Northern Ireland Agri-Food industry, the largest component of the regional economy, to be and be seen as world class in these respects, and we believe it is blessed in having a globally first rate scientific resource in the form of the new Institute on its door step in Belfast."
Supporting today's launch of the Institute for Global Food Security are Tesco, Shore Capital, Deloitte and Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA).
Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)2890975384 or m07814 415451 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Original source: Tesco plc
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