Morrisons:  Commitment to UK meat suppliers.

Morrisons: Commitment to UK meat suppliers.

Morrisons today (13 July) issued a commitment on the fresh meat sold by the UK food retailer.

The Yorkshire-based firm, the UK's fourth-largest grocer, said the commitment covered "unprocessed fresh beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey in brands that are exclusive" to the retailer.

Morrisons said it will now source lamb directly from British farmers year-round. It will cease selling fresh lamb from New Zealand and Australia which it has previously stocked during the winter and early spring months.

The UK-only commitment does not extend to Morrisons' frozen meat range.

Announcing the decision at the Great Yorkshire Show today (13 July), Morrisons said it is able to make the commitment on fresh meat because it has a supply chain which deals directly with British farmers. Rather than buying meat from intermediaries, the vast majority of its meat comes from the retailer's own abattoirs and processing sites and Morrisons' livestock buyers buy cattle, pigs and lamb directly from farmers, it said.

Morrisons is British farming's largest single customer but the company said it had no plans to get back into farming itself.

The supermarket group said the announcement is part of its wider programme to sell more food that is both British and local. More than two-thirds of Morrisons' food is British compared to a national average of 52% and the company said it is keen to put more homegrown food in front of customers. 

It stressed today's announcement is a response to customer demand for more local food and denied increased import costs in the wake of the Brexit vote played a part in its thinking.

Morrisons has also launched a programme to recruit more local food and drink makers and its buyers are touring the country meeting potential suppliers.

Rob Youngson, meat director at Morrisons, said: "Customers tell us that they want more homegrown food and we are listening. We have always been committed to selling British meat and today we are taking this a stage further by making a clear pledge that if you buy fresh meat at Morrisons it will be British."

On the decision not to extend the UK-only commitment to its frozen meat selection, a spokesperson for Morrisons said: "There are no concrete plans to extend it to the frozen range at the moment but if we find the customer demand is there we will consider it."