11 February 2000
Supermarkets refuse to join ABM

By FWi staff

ALL but one of Britains major retailers have refused to sign up to the Assured British Meat assurance scheme, claiming that it is too expensive.

Only Waitrose has agreed to join, although the Co-op is trying to work out a solution allowing it to comply, according to ABM sources.

No other supermarket chain has signed up, although Steve Murrells, of Tesco, said that the retail chain had taken no firm decision.

The refusals come despite ABM proposals to charge each supermarket outlet significantly less than the 300 annual membership charge for livestock markets.

According to ABMs Richard Jones, retailers are hiding behind the cost issue.

But the big supermarkets fear that an independent inspection could make national headline news if food safety was found to be compromised.

That news has angered the farming community.

Auctioneers, who have been asked to support a joint initiative with ABM to help complete the food safety chain, described the news as “shameful”.

“Supermarkets should be forced to join; its a full chain or no chain at all,” a leading auctioneer, who asked to remain anonymous, told Farmers Weekly.