28 April 1998
Back British beef with action, not words — Asda

By FWi staff

PUT your money where your mouth is, and support British beef, Asda chief Allan Leighton has told his retail rivals as beef imports from the EU – mainly from Ireland – leapt 41%.

“Im concerned that fine words issued by some in support of British beef farmers are not being turned into actions,” said Mr Leighton, chief executive of Asda. The superstore chain has a “British is best” policy on beef, and claims to have offered British farmers “unstinting support” since the start of the BSE crisis.

Beef from the Irish Republic now accounts for almost 35% of all beef bought in the UK, according to latest Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) figures, covering 1996/97.

The MLC figures show imports from the EU up more than 23,000 tonnes in 1997, compared to 1996. Ireland provided over 48,000 tonnes in 1997 – over 60% of imports from the EU and nearly 35% of the World total of more than 138,000 tonnes.

Asda claims that its support for British beef has cost it around £5 million this year – yet reckons, as “Britains best-value butcher” not to have passed this on to its customers.

Says Mr Leighton, in a swipe at other retailers and catering suppliers, “Its increasingly clear that other retailers are taking advantage of the continuing strength of the Pound to supplement their fresh beef with imported meat.

“I want to publicly assure British beef farmers that Asda will not tread this path.”