22 May 1998

Tesco tougher on imports

A MAJOR retailer has announced all its imported fresh pig meat will have to meet identical farm assurance standards as those imposed on British farmers by the end of this year or face being taken off the supplier list.

Tesco pig agriculturist Chris Challinor told FW, the extension of British farm assurance standards to imported fresh pigmeat would provide the level playing field for suppliers which the UK industry had been asking for.

The company will also insist that only dedicated farms on the Continent supply its stores and that they do so 52 weeks a year. A pool of farms fulfil Tescos contract presently, but fluctuations in production can see a farm supplying one week and not the next.

Tesco sees the introduction of these standards to imported supplies as offering consumers full confidence in all fresh pigmeat products on its shelves, he added.

The NFU welcomed the announcement. However, NFU pigs committee chairman, Graham England, said the imposition of standards to imported supplies had to be transparent. "Our concern isthat auditing arrangements in other EU countries may not be to as high a standard as in Britain."

If Tescos declaration to impose uniform farm assurance standards across the EU was to stand up to scrutiny, independent auditors must be employed to check overseas suppliers, added Mr England.