UK retailer The Co-operative has announced that it is ceasing fresh meat imports, making it the first national retailer to sell only British meat.
"Only the Co-op offers 100% British fresh meat all year round; not just in the meat cabinet but also in our sandwiches, our pies and our ready meals," said Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive at the Co-op.
“We can do this because we’re owned by members, not shareholders, and can invest long-term in what matters to communities, not what provides the fastest shareholder return. I call on other retailers and food providers to do more to help our farmers, particularly as they head towards uncertain times.”
The quantity of meat being imported into the UK has doubled from £3 billion in 1996 to £6.2 billion in 2016, according to research by The Co-op. Ireland is the biggest beneficiary of trade in this industry, exporting £1.45 billion of meat to the UK last year.
Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association said that "around half of the pork consumed in the UK is imported", which is having a negative effect on local agriculture.
"Fluctuating currency markets and imports which are cheaper because of lower welfare standards can significantly impact the cost of home produced pork, making it harder for farmers to make a living," she added.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.