The NFU Council will hear from Tesco next week what progress the retailer has made towards fulfilling the wide-ranging pledges it made at the union’s AGM in February.

Prompted by the horsemeat scandal, which broke in January, the retailer’s chief executive officer Philip Clarke set out a long list of commitments to producers at the meeting. At the heart of these were sourcing more meat closer to home and improving supply chain relationships.

Eight weeks on, the council is hoping for an account of concrete progress in several sectors, including all fresh chicken being supplied by UK farms from July and improving transparency in supplier relationships.

Two-year contracts for producers who want them, shorter supply chains and an independent panel of experts to improve supply chain relationships were also among the many promises.

There had been an understandable scrutiny from the industry of what Mr Clarke’s announcements meant in practice, said NFU head of food and farming Phil Hudson.

“We look forward to hearing Tesco’s update at NFU Council next week when our members will want to hear the commitments reaffirmed, and the progress towards them, to know that Tesco will keep to the promises made.

Speaking at Queen’s University Belfast in mid March, Mr Clarke outlined rapid progress in Northern Ireland, saying that Tesco would double the amount it spends on buying fresh beef, pork and chicken from Northern Ireland farmers in a very short timescale.

“That will mean that within the next few weeks, we will go from sourcing less than 20% of the meat we sell here locally to around 90%. And we’re not going to stop there – we’re going to do everything within our power to get as close as we can to 100%.”

Farmers Weekly will be monitoring the progress of the Tesco pledges – let us know whether things have improved at on our NFU conference forum

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