Lochhead urges supermarkets to buy Scottish chicken

Leading  supermarkets, catering companies and fast food chains are being asked by the Scottish government where they source their chicken and what their future intentions are.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead has written to companies including Morrisons, ASDA, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Lidl, ALDI, Waitrose, The Co-operative Group, McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Nandos, Dominos, Sodexo, Brakes and Compass in search of this information.

Scoping demand for Scottish chicken is one of the first actions from the Scottish government’s new Poultry Plan, published just before Christmas as it seeks to minimise the impact of the 2 Sisters Food Group decision to rationalise its Scottish poultry operations.

Other work being taken forward includes examining the options for creating a premium brand for Scottish chicken, identifying opportunities for poultry farmers to work together to cut costs, and support for the newly-established Scottish Chicken Growers Association.

“In the wake of the horsemeat scandal, people want to know what they are buying and Scottish produce has impeccable quality and provenance,” said Mr Lochhead. “The sooner we move to a position where the poultry consumed in Scotland is produced in Scotland, the better for us all.

“I am convinced there is strong demand in Scotland for the fantastic poultry being produced here. That is why I am writing to major supermarkets, food service companies and fast food chains to ask where they currently source their chicken, including whole birds, chicken portions and cooked ingredients.

“Earlier this year Tesco made a very welcome commitment to source 100% fresh Scottish chicken in its stores and I would like to see that replicated elsewhere.”

Scotland Food and Drink chief executive James Withers agreed that a number of supermarkets had a strong track record in sourcing their chicken from Scotland.

“When it comes to the catering industry though, the picture can be much more mixed,” he added. “It will be hugely helpful to explore further how the big catering firms might source chicken in future. I’ve spoken to hotel chefs myself who would be interested in sourcing high quality Scottish poultry and switching away from imports. It is these kinds of opportunities we now need to grasp, at the same time as developing a more sustainable processing structure.”

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