Tesco has appointed a new international food sourcing director to expand its direct global sourcing from fresh produce to other commodities.

Matt Simister, who will take up the new role next month, will be responsible for implementing the initiative. He will build on work previously carried out by Alex Dower and Tim Lee within the fresh produce category, rolling it out to other commoditised products, such as meat, rice and coffee.

"By getting closer to growers, farmers and manufacturers around the world we can ensure the very best product is sourced, delivered freshly and at the lowest cost to customers," said a Tesco spokesman.

By cutting out the middlemen, the initiative would allow Tesco to make cost savings which it could then utilise in the price war with Asda, one source predicted. "It will enable Tesco to have a greater buying power over a multitude of products so they'll be able to gain greater economies," he said, admitting that Asda had been putting Tesco under increasing pricing pressure in the UK.

Simister will join from Tesco's Czech and Slovak business where he has been commercial director for two-and-a-half years. A source said that he was "a very good guy and very switched on". "He worked in the strategy unit in Cheshunt before, responsible for own-label sourcing into central and eastern Europe, so he may be leveraging some of that kind of stuff," the source added.

In October last year, Walmart announced plans to consolidate its global sourcing with the creation of global merchandising centres. In January, it announced an alliance with global sourcing organisation Li & Fung.

At the time, Walmart vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said: "By realigning our resources, leveraging our scale, and restructuring our relationship with suppliers, we will enable our businesses to offer even more competitive pricing on merchandise and to provide our customers with a clear and compelling assortment of better-quality products at lower prices."