More than 600 farmers have joined the Co-operative’s new farming groups.
The supermarket has launched five groups for producers supplying its own-brand fresh British meat and poultry.
The beef farming group will provide the Truly Irresistible beef range, which will be sourced from beef cattle for stores in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and from Aberdeen Angus cattle for Scottish stores.
The other four groups cover Truly Irresistible Cambrian lamb, Truly Irresistible outdoor-reared Hampshire breed pork, standard pork and standard chicken.
Trading contracts are with the Co-op’s suppliers, however producers will sign membership terms, which have to be met to be part of a farming group.
Producers will receive a premium for meeting additional requirements above the standard health and quality and brand requirements. These include sustainability, environmental and ethical and training standards.
Producers will be eligible for further incentives, such as bulk buying feed schemes and medicine groups.
The supermarket said it would identify a number of model farms from within the farming groups once they have been established.
“The farming groups offer a joined-up development approach and long-term commitment to these supply chains,” said Steve Murrells, Co-op chief executive.
“The aim is to deliver both a profitable return for farmers and high-quality, traceable, fresh British meat and poultry for our customers.
“These farming groups will help further strengthen our relationship with producers and give our customers even greater confidence in the provenance of our fresh own-brand meat and poultry.”
The NFU supported the introduction of the groups, with president Peter Kendall describing the launch as a “positive step”.
The Co-op is recruiting additional members via its existing suppliers.