Asda has revealed the scale of its ambitions in the beef category following the launch of its quality-focused Beef Link scheme last week.

Senior beef buyer Jim Viggars said that Asda planned to more than double the volume of beef it sold each year to 114 million kg over the next 10 years.

He shrugged off concerns over falling domestic production by saying he would source from the UK even if it cost more than imported beef.

"Asda has seen a sustained period of market- leading growth, and if we stay where we are now, we'll hit our targets," he said.

"Our customers want to buy British, they want local products and they want ­premium products. I'm not going to walk away from that just because I can buy more cheaply from abroad."

For the vision to become reality, Asda's beef sales would have to grow at 8% a year - a target it expects to achieve this year and exceed in 2008.

The key was to drive consumption, rather than winning market share, said Viggars. "We're giving more space to fresh meat as it's a growing category," he said.

"That means more fresh meat counters, new stores and refits.

"We're also encouraging customers to mix and match by offering two-for promotions."

It is currently running a two-for-£6 deal that allows shoppers to combine pork chops with mince, or lamb with steak.

The retailer has already installed 15 new counters and has plans for a further three this month.

The news came as McKinsey reported Northern Irish beef farmers were losing £260m per year producing beef and needed a 50% price rise to stay in business.

Viggars admitted beef prices had to rise, but said Beef Link should help Asda become farmers' first-choice customer.

"Realistically, the beef price is going to go up, and we'll go with it," he said. "But, if you overprice a species, consumers switch out of it very, very quickly. Beef Link and our relations with farmers should stand us in good stead."