The Meat & Livestock Commission has used its last-ever summer barbecue event in Westminster to accuse supermarkets of backsliding on their commitment to British meat.
Peter Barr, MLC president, told MPs and industry figures that retailers were “slipping into their old ways” with lower prices and higher imports.
“I’m concerned to see retailers becoming more short-term and adversarial again,” he said. “This won’t help them meet consumer demand for British meat.”
The MLC, which will be disbanded in April next year under reform of the levy board system, would be writing a detailed report on retailers’ meat-buying policies for the NFU, he said.
It would scrutinise retailers’ performance on stocking, pricing, labelling and promoting red meat over the coming months, and the report should be ready in the autumn.
National Farmers’ Union livestock adviser Peter King said the findings could be used as a tool to help farmers decide which retailer they want to work with.
“The aim is also to help retailers do better by privately sharing the findings with them,” King said. “Supply chains have become part of retailers’ corporate social responsibility, and while they’re very good at talking about it, they can be more shaky on the detail.”
The NFU, meanwhile, has sent a livestock farmer to Brussels to drum up support for a ban on imports of Brazilian beef.
Livestock board chairman Thomas Binns met the European Parliament agriculture committee on Monday (16 July) as part of an EU farmer delegation.
“Imports serve to displace British beef in Europe, undermining domestic production and price,” he said.
The UK imported 28,600 tonnes of Brazilian beef last year, but the European Union 25 overall import far more - 163,700 tonnes in 2006.