1 December 1995

Farmers are

in a time warp

– Tesco buyer

FARMERS regard supermarket meat buyers as bullies and buyers think farmers are in a time warp, reckons Andy Batty, meat trading director for Tesco.

"We are not pulling together to move the business forward," he told a Smithfield FarmTech seminar. "We must break down the barriers and work for the greater good of us all."

He said he was embarking on a feasibility study to improve communications, half funded by the governments marketing development scheme. A grant of up to £150,000 would be available, confirmed MAFF market task force spokesman Trevor Denham.

Farmers were not close enough to the final consumer, Mr Batty told the seminar. "They are in competition with each other and still selling through auction markets. That means producers are not getting quality feedback from consumers."

Too many farmer marketing decisions were based on price because of the "complete lack of communication and trust", he said. "Price is only part of it; quality and consistency are also important in our buying decisions."

He urged finishers to co-operate in groups of 30-50 to supply the base market as well as niche opportunities. But when asked if he would offer five-year contracts to farmers following his advice, he declined.

Instead he said he could offer "volume contracts and a clear specification" and would be "fairly confident" an acceptable price would follow. &#42