Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke is to make his first major speech to farmers since the horsemeat scandal hit the headlines.

Mr Clarke will address the NFU annual conference in Birmingham on Wednesday (27 February), where he will speak about the contribution agriculture makes to the economy.

Tesco was among the first supermarket chains to be hit by the horsemeat scandal when DNA tests revealed up to 29% of its economy beefburgers was in fact horse.

The fiasco led to calls for retailers to buy fully assured British beef rather than cheap imported meat and take full responsibility for the ingredients in their products.

Earlier this month, the NFU launched its own “Buy British” initiative, taking out advertisements in weekend newspapers.

It is not known whether Mr Clarke will address the issue in his NFU speech – or whether he will mention it at all.

In the wake of the scandal, Britain’s biggest retailer has unveiled its own DNA testing scheme across its range of meat products – and vowed to pick up the cost of doing so.

The supermarket chain has worked with the NFU to launch direct contracts with beef and pork farmers in what the union says is a positive move to improve supply chain relationships.

Changes announced last autumn mean Tesco will now source its beef and pork for specialised lines from dedicated farmer suppliers.

In return, farmers freely entering into a contract to supply Tesco will benefit from clear pricing commitments linked to cost of production for pork and a market premium for beef.

The horsemeat scandal has seen farmers press for similar measures on processed beef products, too.

 

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