UK grocer The Co-operative Group has switched all of its own-label fresh meat to domestic sources, calling on other supermarkets and foodservice providers to also back “home-grown goods”.
The Co-op said from yesterday (2 May) its stores will now sell “only 100% fresh British bacon and lamb – dropping Danish bacon and New Zealand lamb”.
The move was announced as The Co-op said its own research showed “meat imports by UK firms are up from GBP5.87bn (US$7.5bn) in 2015 to GBP6.21bn in 2016”.
A spokesperson for the Co-op told just-food the initiative “pre-dates Brexit”, with the retailer already offering “100% British fresh meat all-year-round not just in the meat cabinet but also in our sandwiches, our pies and our ready meals”.
Co-op retail chief executive Jo Whitfield called on “other retailers and food providers to do more to help our farmers, particularly as they head towards uncertain times”.
Whitfield insisted the Co-op’s initiative was possible “because we’re owned by members not shareholders and can invest long-term in what matters to communities, not what provides the fastest shareholder return”.
According to the Co-op’s research, UK meat imports “have risen by a third since 2006, when they totalled GBP4.7bn”.
National Pig Association chief executive Zoe Davies, said: “Around half of the pork consumed in the UK is imported. Fluctuating currency markets and imports which are cheaper because of lower welfare standards can significantly impact the cost of home-produced pork, making it harder for farmers to make a living. We call on more retailers and food providers to back British and either source more UK pork or follow the Co-op’s lead.”