Morrisons has faced criticism from the National Farmers Union for opting to sell poultry from abroad.
The Bradford-based supermarket’s decision to move away from stocking 100 per cent British poultry meat was described as “extremely disappointing” for the industry by the union.
But the supermarket maintained it would continue to sell a higher percentage of British meat than any other major retailer and added that all of its Morrisons-branded fresh meat would continue to be sourced exclusively from British farms.
The chain will import meat from within Europe and market it under Morrisons’ exclusive tertiary brands Helmsley’s.
NFU poultry board chairman Duncan Priestner said: “We understand the difficulties retailers are faced with in a competitive market where consumers are demanding a variety of price levels to suit their needs, but unfortunately that comes at the cost of animal welfare standards and British poultry meat.
“British poultry produ-cers have committed and invested in their businesses in order to supply Morrisons so it is extremely disappointing Morrisons has made this decision. It means British chicken will be now be displaced by cheaper produce from EU countries that will not have to meet the same welfare standards.
“Morrisons has always been a keen supporter of British farming and we want this to continue. We hope this is a short term move that Morrisons will review and reverse at the earliest opportunity.”
A spokesman for the supermarket told the Yorkshire Post: “We will buy more meat direct from British farmers than other British supermarkets. We are the only major British supermarket to run our own abattoirs that support British farmers.
“Of course, in these tough economic times we have to offer customers the choice of cheaper alternatives.”