Sainsbury’s has launched a new initiative to source older cow beef from dairy farms in its direct supply group through its contract processor ABP.

Cull cows from the 325 herds in the retailer’s Dairy Development Group will go into Sainsbury’s minced, diced and further processed beef ranges and participating farmers will receive a premium price.

Sainsbury’s agriculture manager Annie Graham said the new agreement would help the retailer fulfil its aim to supply British beef wherever possible.

The six milk fields within the Dairy Development Group dovetailed with the location of ABP’s abattoirs and would improve animal welfare through reduced transport, Miss Graham said.

Market conditions

ABP would adopt a single older cow pricing grid throughout England, Wales and Scotland, which would reflect market conditions, but would reward farmers who met meat quality and carcass specifications. Dairy farmers would also receive a quarterly loyalty bonus worth an extra 20p/kg deadweight, Miss Graham added.

The arrangement provided a consistent supply of quality older cow beef for the retailer, a manageable number of cows for the processor, and recognised the extra value of cull cows from the dairy herd.

ABP’s managing director Richard Cracknell said it was important to encourage dairy farmer to maximise the contribution cull cows made to the supply chain. “The regional sourcing and bonus payments implicit in these cull cows is a huge step forward for the industry and, hopefully, will mean substantial increased income for many dairy farmers.”

Sainsbury’s said the initiative was an example of its commitment to collaborative working within the supply chain and with farmers.