2 June 1995

Sainsbury extends its farm assured meat initiative

By Philip Clarke

SUPERMARKET Sainsbury has announced that by the end of the year all fresh meat sold in its 365 stores (except poultry) will be fully farm assured.

Currently 75% of fresh meat sales are farm assured. Now the stores "partnership in livestock" scheme is being extended to cover pork, veal and venison.

On-farm checks will be carried out by Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb (FABBL) inspectors, except in Scotland and Wales where existing FASL and FAWL schemes are also recognised.

The move has been welcomed by FABBL, which believes it will persuade more farmers to join. While it is unlikely to generate a specific price premium, the reward would come through in general market conditions, said Sussex livestock producer and FABBL chairman Gerald Cowan.

He pointed out that it was not just FABBL members who would be subject to inspection under this initiative.

FABBL inspectors will act as auditors for the Sainsbury scheme, visiting supplying farms, abattoirs, wholesalers and auction marts to ensure that they are complying with its terms. These are along the same lines as FABBL requirements, though not exactly the same in detail.

"Those who do not meet the farm assurance standards will find it increasingly difficult to sell their produce, and rather than getting a premium for stock with farm assured status, the market will move towards a discount for those who do not have it," he predicted.

"The efforts we are making are important if consumers are to have complete confidence in our fresh meat products," said Sainsbury meat buyer Stuart Mitchell.

Equivalent scheme

A Sainsbury spokeswoman added that, while most of the meat it sold was of UK origin, an equivalent scheme was being set up in New Zealand to cover imports of lamb. FABBL inspectors would also monitor Irish production.

Meat sourced via livestock auctions would be accepted, as long as the mart concerned was involved in the partnership, she added.

Currently some 9000 producers are in farm assured programmes covered by the partnership.

Further announcements of similar initiatives by other supermarkets are expected within the next few months.