The fallout from The Guardian and ITV investigation in the chicken supply chain at 2 Sisters was covered over the weekend. The Observer reports that the UK biggest supplier of chicken suspended production at one of its main processing plants after undercover filming seemed to reveal poor hygiene standards and food safety records being altered. The temporary closure by 2 Sisters will allow the company to put employees at the West Midlands plant through a retraining programme.
Tesco has said it made a mistake when it described chicken sold under its Willow Farm brand as “reared exclusively” for the supermarket chain, The Guardian wrote on Saturday. The move followed undercover footage showing packs of drumsticks returned by Lidl being repackaged as Willow Farm products. Tesco has now removed the claim. Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl have all suspended buying chicken from 2 Sisters Food Group’s West Bromwich plant following the investigation, with Tesco following suit on Sunday, The Guardian adds in a separate story. 2 Sisters is also facing a “short, sharp” parliamentary inquiry in the wake of evidence uncovered by a joint investigation by the Guardian and ITV News, the paper says.
The story comes as Tesco is set to reveal its half-year results later this week. The Observer notes that the recovery continues at the supermarket but it could face grilling over supplier of chicken. The Sunday Times says that Tesco is set to update the stock market on its multibillion-pound pension deficit this week as it reports a solid half-year of trading. The retailer has been conducting a triennial review of its defined benefit retirement fund, which has 350,000 members. The Mail adds the gap between the fund’s assets and liabilities shot up to around £5.5bn in April following a collapse in the bond market, with Tesco currently contributing £270m a year to the pension fund.
Tesco also remained in the news as the criminal trial of three former senior Tesco executives heard how they overstated and “massaged” the UK supermarket group’s expected profits by £250m and then “bullied and coerced” less senior staff to falsify the figures (The Financial Times).
Nisa’s announcement on Saturday of CEO Nick Read’s sudden departure also generated column inches, with The Mail noting that Co-op takeover talks continue. The Sunday Times Prufrock column delves a bit deeper into the story. “It’s taken a while, but Nisa’s boss has finally fallen on his sword,” the paper writes. “Read, 51, had angered members by paying himself generously and courting Sainsbury’s for a £130m sale. The final straw seems to have been his decision to promise £193,500 of undisclosed “retention payments” to 15 senior lieutenants while denying the rank and file their annual bonuses.” It adds that Read’s head may not be the last to roll.
American food giant Archer Daniels Midland is plotting a move for part of Unilever’s £6bn spreads division, which includes Flora and Stork margarines, The Sunday Times reports. The £17bn food ingredients maker and commodities trading house is said to be interested in buying the food-processing operations of the Unilever business.