The return of veal to the British mainstream is gathering pace, with Sainsbury’s set to launch an eight-strong high-welfare British veal range under its Taste the Difference label tomorrow.

The products in the range are escalope, mince, sirloin, fillet, rib chops, osso bucco, liver, shoulder and roasting joints. They are all accredited by Freedom Foods and will initially be available in 150 stores.

The veal comes from male calves from farmers in Sainsbury’s dairy development group, which are reared by farmers in a dedicated veal development group. Sainsbury’s said the calves were housed in open, straw-bedded barns and fed on a diet of milk, water and fibre.

It added farmers in its veal development group would be paid according to the same cost-of-production model that is already used in its dairy development group.

Agricultural manager Alice Swift said the Sainsbury’s had to date been able to offer British veal only in a handful of its stores. “This launch has been the work of having such a strong and open relationship with its farmers,” she said. “We hope this sets the benchmark for further product launches and trials in the future.”

Swift added consumers had in the past perceived veal as “cruel” but stressed Sainsbury’s new range was produced to high welfare standards and approved by Freedom Foods.

The launch of Sainsbury’s range comes ahead of Tesco launching a new own-label, high-welfare British veal range in its stores. The retailer said at the beginning of November that it was planning to roll out the new range ahead of Christmas.

Tesco also recently started selling branded veal products from DB Foods-owned Brookfield Farm, whose British veal products are also Freedom Foods-approved.

Earlier this year, celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty campaigned  for Tesco to launch meatballs made from high-welfare British veal  as part of his Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket programme, broadcast on Channel 4.