Tesco to Use More British Meat in Wake of Horsemeat Scandal


28 Feb 2013 --- Leading UK retailer Tesco has said it would buy more meat from its home market in Britain and shorten supply chains after the discovery of horsemeat in beef products shook consumer confidence in supermarket sourcing.

--- Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, was one of the first grocers to be hit by the horsemeat scandal, which has prompted European governments to demand tougher rules on the sourcing and labelling of meat products.

In a speech at the National Farmers Union, Philip Clarke, Group Chief Executive, Tesco, “Not since BSE has the meat processing industry been under such scrutiny. The events of the last six weeks have shocked the whole country. Customers don’t like what they’ve been hearing about how some of the meat they put on their plates is produced.” While he denied price rises were “inevitable”, he acknowledged that he could not “guarantee” they would remain at present levels.

“Tesco customers tell me they are concerned about the provenance of their meat, and that they want to buy British. And the vision I have is of a bright future for British agriculture, a future based on better relationships and upon a transparent supply chain. We are the UK’s biggest retailer, the biggest customer of UK agriculture, and I firmly believe that means we should be the best supporter of British farmers.”

“Events over the past six weeks have been a wake-up call for the whole industry. Over many years, the way retailers source food has been allowed to become too complex. Reducing this complexity is in everyone’s interests, specifically by shortening the supply chain where possible and increasing co-operation between producers, processors and retailers.”

“Working directly with farmers and growers is key to our new approach,” he stated, “and so as well as making commitments about the provenance of our meat, I want to make some commitments to how we work with you. You have told us how powerful and helpful you find our existing Tesco Sustainable Farming Groups, which has proved a successful model for partnership with some of our dairy farmers, so today I am announcing an extension of these across our agricultural supply base to cover all proteins. We will also explore the potential to extend this approach to fruits, vegetables and salads too.”

“Furthermore, we are appointing a new Tesco Agriculture Director who will lead the development of these groups and will ensure that the farming industry has a single point of contact with Tesco.”

“We recognise that if we are to have a genuine partnership with you, we need to give you the certainty you need to maintain and grow your business.”

“Again as a demonstration of my commitment to building this new spirit of collaboration, today, I am committing Tesco to offer contracts with a minimum period of two years to all our suppliers who want them.”

“I am also announcing today that we are going to extend our very successful producer network, a social network of producers to help all of us share knowledge and communicate more directly with producers, farmers and growers. We will do this with a phased approach, starting next month with dairy farmers. I think it’s a really exciting further step on this journey towards a true partnership.”

“Tesco’s success is built on a focus on the customer, and I am absolutely committed to ensuring that our entire product range offers quality. This applies as much to our Everyday Value range as to our Finest range. I will never accept the patronising argument that somehow a value product shouldn’t meet the same exacting standards as the core range.”

“I will also never accept the equally patronising view that providing people with affordable food – what some people dismiss as “cheap food” – is somehow wrong. It does not follow that the measures I am announcing today mean that food needs to become more expensive.”

“Everyone at Tesco is committed to offering the highest quality food at every price point. Whatever a customer is able to afford, there can be no compromise – what’s on the pack (and only what’s on the pack) is what will be in the product.”

“I have put in place an industry-leading raft of measures to restore consumer confidence in our product. We will be implementing an unprecedented DNA testing programme on all batches of processed beef coming into our supply chain, and are putting in place a new Tesco standard so shoppers know that the products they are buying have been through the most rigorous testing regime in UK retail. To hold us to account, we are also establishing an independent panel of experts which will help us to improve the way the supply chain works in practice.”

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