Co-operative food shop© Jacob Carter/REX/Shutterstock

The Co-op has announced it is switching to 100% British meat for all of its fresh bacon and lamb from spring 2017.

The move will make the retailer – the fifth largest in the UK – the only major UK food supermarket to stock 100% own-brand fresh British beef, chicken, pork, lamb, bacon, sausages and turkey.

It is already the only retailer to use British meat in all its chilled ready meals, pies and sandwiches.

Overall, it sells about 80% fresh British meat.

See also: Lamb Watch finds plenty of NZ meat on supermarket shelves

The switch to 100% British bacon and lamb will be from 1 May 2017 to enable supplies to be sourced.

The commitment on lamb will be achieved by working with about 1,700 sheep farms across England, Scotland and Wales.

Native breeds

The supermarket has said year-round supply will be achieved by sourcing animals from a variety of native breeds that produce lambs at different times.

In the face of market uncertainty post-Brexit, the Co-op’s commitment to source British lamb year round is particularly important in providing the support and stability to help British sheep farming thrive Meurig Raymond, NFU

NFU president Meurig Raymond said it was a bold move by the Co-op to sell only British lamb and bacon – one which showed real commitment to quality British food.

“The public tells us time and again that they want to see more British food on supermarket shelves and it’s fantastic to see that the Co-op has recognised this and realised that it makes strong business sense to support British farmers.

“In the face of market uncertainty post-Brexit, the Co-op’s commitment to source British lamb year round is particularly important in providing the support and stability to help British sheep farming thrive and sends a clear message that British lamb really is the best in the world.”

‘Strongest move’

Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association, agreed the decision was a resounding endorsement for British farming.

“It’s important retailers do more than rollout the bunting in their aisles to support UK farming and switching to home-produced bacon is the strongest move a retailer can make.”

The announcement came at the start of Love British Food Fortnight, which runs from 17 September to 2 October, and this year is sponsored by the Co-op.

Steve Murrells, Co-op retail chief executive, said: “We are a major supporter of British farming.

“This move is a first for a major food retailer and will see us invest millions more into sourcing home-produced goods.”