The Co-operative Group and red meat supplier Dunbia have announced a partnership to use 100% British Hereford beef.

The breed will be used in all Co-op Truly Irresistible beef products – steaks, joints, mince, stewing steak and burgers – in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from April.  Aberdeen Angus beef will continue to be sold across the range in Scotland.

Hereford-sired cattle from across the UK will be sourced by Dunbia through a Hereford producer group that is open to all farmers who meet the criteria. The scheme will pay an unstated premium over base price and is open to all UK cattle of farm-assured status.

“This scheme from The Co-operative Group will create an important new market for Hereford-bred cattle,” said Dunbia managing director Jim Dobson. “We anticipate strong demand for this high-quality beef and we encourage farmers who meet the criteria to take part in the Hereford scheme.”

The Co-op took the precautionary step of removing its beef burgers from stores in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. After tests were carried out, four out of a sample of 17 burgers showed traces of equine DNA, with one burger containing 17.7% horsemeat.

Matt Hood, head of commercial - chilled at The Co-op, said: “All our fresh beef is 100% British. We have always been strong supporters of the UK farming industry, and our policy is to source and promote meat and poultry from animals reared in the UK wherever possible.

“This producer group scheme for premium beef is a great step forward, and will enable us to offer our customers a consistent, quality product by working closely with our partner farmers to ensure even more robust supply chains and traceability.”

Richard Mann, chairman of the Hereford Cattle Society, said: “This scheme offers a joined-up development approach and long-term commitment to the Hereford supply chain. This will deliver both a profitable return for farmers and high-quality, traceable British beef for the consumer.” 

More details on the scheme are available on the Dunbia Farmers website.