Tesco scraps beef poster after farmer label query

A supermarket giant has removed a poster from one its stores after a beef farmer flagged that its local sourcing pledge was not being met.

A marketing board in a Scottish Tesco store claiming all beef was bought “from local Scottish farmers”, displayed just metres away from packs of Irish beef, made Lanarkshire beef producer Michael Shannon see red.

See also: How a beef finisher keeps winter feed costs at 48p/day

He took several pictures on his phone of slaughterhouse numbers in Northern Ireland, Leicestershire and Bedfordshire shown on other beef packs. 

Poster at Tesco about Scottish beef

© Michael Shannon

Irish beef in Tesco

© Michael Shannon

When questioned by Farmers Weekly, Tesco said the poster was old and had been withdrawn, although did not wish to be directly quoted.

Michael – who has his own retailing brand, Damn Delicious, through which he sells grass-finished Aberdeen Angus cattle, grass-fed lamb and free-range pork – said he felt let down by the misleading poster.

“How Tesco sources its beef is Tesco’s business, but to state that you buy all your beef from local Scottish farms when you clearly do not is out of order,” he told Farmers Weekly.

“It could be seen as wilfully misleading the consumer,” he added.  

Slaughter and packing plant numbers on the Food Standards Scotland website revealed the following discrepancies:

  • Tesco finest British Sirloin “British Beef” Slaughtered in GB 2077 (Foyle Group, Leicestershire). Cut in UK NI 9042 Foyle Group, County Tyrone
  • Tesco finest Fillet steak Slaughtered in GB 5106 (Dawn Meats, Cardington, Bedfordshire). Cut in GB 5106 (Dawn Meats, Cardington, Bedfordshire) and GB 5416 (Hilton Foods, Huntingdon)
  • IrishThin Cut Beef Steaks” Slaughtered in IE 364 (Dawn Meats, Ballyhaunis, County Mayo). Cut in IE 364 (Dawn Meats, Ballyhaunis, County Mayo) and GB 5416 (Hilton Foods, Huntingdon).

Weighing pies

Michael said he knew how stringent food standards could be after recently being pulled up when some of his pies, when tested by the local authority, were found to contain more steak than was stated on the label.

As a family farmer trying to pay off a mortgage, he said he was disappointed when big players appeared to be playing by different rules. 

Labelling regulation reform

NFU Scotland chief executive John Davidson said Tesco could do much more to support Scottish farming.

“I pay tribute to the efforts from members to shine a light on the practices of retailers in respect of their sourcing policies – and more specifically the labelling, branding and point-of-sale promotion used to inform consumers,” he added.

“These examples underline our recent calls for the reform of labelling regulations to deliver more transparency for consumers, including the adoption of a new label for retail and food service that more clearly identifies when more than 50% of ingredients have been sourced from outside the UK.” 


The revelations follow the publication of NFU Scotland’s ShelfWatch survey, which suggested Tesco was among the biggest importers of food.

Over a 48-hour period in late January, an independent research team visited 71 stores to conduct ShelfWatch.

Less than 10% of the beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables and dairy products on display were Scottish in Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s.