Tesco has indicated that it will source more meat in the UK as it looks to tighten security down the supply chain in response to the horsemeat scandal that has engulfed Europe.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today radio programme, Tesco CEO Phil Clarke suggested that Tesco will increase its collaboration with UK farmers. The group will begin offering two-year supply contracts in order to help promote a sustainable British agriculture sector, Clarke added. 

“We’re going to bring meat production a bit closer to home. We do buy some, particularly for our frozen products, out of Europe, and as we can we’ll bring it closer to home,” Clarke said.

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 last month.

The company has responded by stepping up scrutiny of its supply chain and implementing a more stringent testing regime. Clarke looked to reassure consumers that its efforts would prove effective. “The testing regime is intended to ensure that if it is not on the label it is not in the packet, if it is beef it is beef,” he said.

This afternoon (27 February), Clarke will detail Tesco’s proposals at the National Farmers Union annual conference in Birmingham. Check back for further coverage from just-food of the event.