Plenty of work ahead in British food battle

Supermarkets have been criticised for selling anything other than British lamb when it is in season.  Pic: Image Source/Rex Features
Supermarkets have been criticised for selling anything other than British lamb when it is in season. Pic: Image Source/Rex Features
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Despite high-profile commitment from retailers to stock more British food, there remains a lot of work ahead, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said.

A year on from the launch of the farming union’s Back British Food campaign, farmers want more direct and long-term contacts with retailers to give them greater confidence to invest in their business and more protection from marketplace volatilities.

The NFU also wants retailers to be clearer in identifying British products to customers at point of sale.

It said there are instances where in-store advertising show the Union Jack but both British and Irish products are sold.

The union also criticised supermarkets which sold anything other than British lamb when it is in season. As the UK is self-sufficient in lamb, there was no excuse for imported lamb on supermarket shelves, the NFU said.

Richard Pearson, regional director of the NFU for the North East, said: “The work never stops and we will continue to encourage retailers and other key players in the supply chain to source more British food as we know it adheres to excellent production standards, ensures a short supply chain, supports British industry and ultimately delivers a product that the British consumer wants.”

Since the launch of the Back British Farming campaign in August last year, Tesco has delivered on sourcing 100 per cent fresh British chicken and in February the firm announced plans to extend its direct relationships and contracts with farmers into fresh produce.

While in May, Waitrose and its processor Dovecote Park announced that it was setting a price floor for beef, initially at £3.40/kg until September which was later extended to £3.45 until October 1.

The NFU’s Back British Farming charter, which calls on retailers, food services, MPs and consumers to pledge their support to British farming has been backed by the likes of Waitrose, Morrison’s, The Co-operative and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.