Tesco has launched an initiative aimed at recruiting more British organic farmers and increasing the availability of British-sourced organic meat.

The initiative was kickstarted at the Tesco-sponsored Food Animal Initiative in Oxford. The Soil Association and Defra were on hand to offer support and advice on grants.

The event demonstrated commercial organic production systems and participants had the chance to learn from Tesco suppliers who have converted dairy, chicken and beef.

Tesco says it has seen huge growth in organic sales, particularly since organic has been sold alongside conventional.

Agricultural manager Michelle Waterman said: "The growth in the organic market represents a real opportunity for British farmers to align themselves with a premium market.

"We have already gone on record as saying our overall aim is to source 100% British organic meat and have had success in increasing the amount of British-sourced organics we can offer - beef and pork in particular.

"But there is still an opportunity here for far more farmers to benefit."

Tesco is working with suppliers to explore opportunities to reduce "wastage". For example, organic dairy cows and calves could be finished organically rather than entering the conventional supply chain."

Pig farmer and organic pioneer Helen Browning said: "Organic has seen extraordinary growth over the past year. It is encouraging that Tesco suppliers are offering contracts to those who convert.

"My advice to those considering conversion is to be clear about your market, and secure your position in the supply chain. It's crucial to keep supply and demand in balance."

Interested farmers are advised to contact St Merryn, Southern Counties Fresh Foods or Tulip.