Tesco has promised all fresh beef in own-brand packs and on butchers’ counters in its Scottish shops will be certified Scotch Beef by the spring.
The supermarket has said all beef in its Everyday Value, Tesco Brand, Finest and Organic ranges will be labelled as Scotch Beef with Protected Geographical Indication status, meaning cattle will have been born, reared and processed in Scotland.
Ready meals and frozen beef will not be covered by the commitment.
Tesco will offer Scotch Beef suppliers with direct two-year contracts linked to its main beef supplier McIntosh Donald, while farmers’ welfare and production standards will be audited as part of Quality Meat Scotland’s beef assurance scheme.
Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said the promise was welcome news for consumers and producers.
“This is a clear signal of confidence in the red meat industry in Scotland, and customers can be confident in the journey their food has taken with this move to increase sourcing from trusted local producers,” he said.
“I hope producers can seize upon this and adjust to the new opportunities available to them.”
QMS chairman Jim McClaren said they had recently seen an increase in the number of people who believe locally sourced red meat is important to them.
“We look forward to other retailers acting on this clear signal of demand from Scotland’s shoppers and seizing the opportunity to increase their commitment to a brand that is renowned for its quality and flavour across the globe.”
The supermarket said this announcement was the “start of a process” and exactly how much beef in Scottish stores is already Scotch and how many extra farmers the supermarket will need to sign up is not clear.
Currently, 160 Scottish businesses supply almost 200 Tesco stores in Scotland.
Tesco’s commercial director of fresh foods Richard Marris said over the past year the supermarket had been trying to bring its food offering closer to home.
“With so much fantastic fresh produce available in Scotland, we’re delighted to announce this new commitment on Scotch beef, which reinforces our standing as the Scottish beef industry’s biggest customer,” he said.