20 March 1998
Tesco responds to sourcing demands

By Farmers Weekly staff

AN Anglesey farmer who was at Holyhead when Tesco beefburgers were dumped in the sea confronted two of the companys executives during a farm visit on Monday.

Beef and lamb buyer Colin Hill, and producer clubs manager Chris Ling, met Elfed Hughes when they visited Bwch Anan Farm, Llanfechell, during the launch of the companys fifth lamb producer club. He told them that the incident reflected producers fury and frustration over the impact of beef and New Zealand lamb imports.

“In my case I bought 1200 store lambs for £45/head, grew them on for several months and ended up selling them for £41,” Mr Hughes claimed.

“Like other farmers I have done my best to respond to what the supermarkets told us about improving the quality of our lamb and beef, and accepted all the new hygiene rules. I hope the supermarkets will now do their best for us by buying British.”

Mr Hill said his company had a long-standing agreement to import frozen Irish burgers, but 95% of the beef it sold was produced in Britain. New Zealand supplied about 25% of total lamb sold, but at a time when it was difficult to source consistent supplies of high quality home-produced lamb.

“We have never made a secret of these imports, and have labelled them clearly. If the right quality lamb becomes available to substitute for imports we will use it.”

That might be possible through members of producer groupings responding to the two-way flow of information with processors and retailers. Mr Hughes said he planned to join the new club.

Mr Hill announced that Tesco was hoping to recruit 1500 farmers to supply 5000 lambs a week to the new club based at Cig Mon Cymrus abattoir at Llangefni. It is the largest sheep-only abattoir in Europe, and is owned and operated by Owen Owen, who started the business in 1991.

The aim was to forge closer working relationships along the livestock supply chain, and the launch demonstrated commitment to securing the future of the red meat sector, and the British farmers who supplied it, Mr Hill said.

  • For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 20-26 March, 1998

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