4 June 1999

Hypocrisy over welfare issues

CONSUMERS are not well informed about welfare, and supermarkets must act ahead of their concerns.

That is what Martin Cooke of Tesco admitted after NFU director of policy, Ian Gardiners, claim that consumer hypocrisy is being pandered to.

Speaking at the Langford Food Industry Conference, Mr Gardiner said that when people bought pigmeat, not many asked whether it was British or produced to high welfare standards. "There is a difference between what people say and what they do, and we must not have hypocrisy from the public at large."

Tesco had to reassure the customer, who was not well informed, about welfare issues, said Mr Cooke in reply. "It is like being a goalkeeper, we address potential problems before they become customer issues. Goalkeepers do not get any thanks for saving goals but plenty of criticism for letting them in."

He is keen to build bridges with producers. "As British agricultures number one customer, Tesco takes its relationship with its farmer supply base seriously.

"We source primarily from the UK, if the product meets our quality and price criteria, and our investment in the primary supply chain exceeds that of any other supermarket.

"Tesco is keen to ensure that our fresh meat suppliers operate on a level playing field. We recently set up a New Zealand lamb producers club to ensure all our fresh lamb is produced to similar standards."