7 June 1996

Tesco prefers mills that declare values

By Tony McDougal

TESCO wants to develop partnerships with specific feed companies who declare full ingredients for their compound feeds.

The company said it was not satisfied with trade organisation UKASTAs announcement that some of its members would provide ingredient details for most compounds, adding it was looking at the possibility of sourcing from dedicated mills.

Andy Batty, Tesco fresh meat director, said UKASTA was well aware of the companys feelings, hinting that the multiple would prefer members of its newly formed producer clubs to buy feed from companies who give full ingredient percentages on all compounds, such as the south-west-based farmer cooperative Mole Valley Farmers.

Mole Valley Farmers has followed an ingredient declaration policy since 1980, claiming the significance of including compound percentages enabled farmers to see how much of the higher valued items were included in the feed.

Mr Batty said a Tesco Producer Group policy document, detailing farmers to meet pre-set standards and guidelines on feed composition and storage, medicine and veterinary treatments, loading and transportation, husbandry and welfare, housing, movement records, identification and marking and origin of livestock had been produced for consultation.

The firm would not comment on whether it will take any animals from herds which have had cases of BSE in the past. But it was dubious about taking stock from MAFFs proposed mature beef scheme.

"If the government introduces a good database infrastructure which clearly allows animals to be traced back we see no problem, but if it is simply another paper-operated system, we may be less supportive."

Arthur Haddrell, Tesco technical manager, said the policy document would build on current legal requirements, and the company was working with organisations such as Farm Assured Beef and Lamb (FABBL) and the Scottish Quality Beef and Lamb Association (SQBLA).

"We aim to go further than the two schemes. FABBL covers standards on farms, while SQBLA covers standards on the farm, during transport and at the abattoir," he said.

John Dracup, St Merryn Meat procurement manager, said he was optimistic that Tesco would be buying between 2000-2500 beef cattle a year from its abattoirs at Bodmin and Torrington once the scheme was up and running. The first beef from the new producer group scheme could be on the supermarket shelves by the end of the year.

Producer groups based around abattoirs in Cornwall, Somerset and Scotland will elect a committee consisting of representatives from Tesco, the farming community, the NFU, the Meat and Livestock Commission and the supplier, and meet initially on a monthly basis. &#42