National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Tesco claims Christmas success whilst sacrificing British produce

10th January 2018

Region: National

Chris Mallon, NBA Chief Executive
Chris Mallon, NBA Chief Executive

Tesco is making headlines with leading sales over Christmas and New Year for the first time in 5 years, however, their commitment to British beef over the same period also deserves headlines.

The National Beef Association (NBA) was contacted by consumers in the South West after the New Year complaining about the lack of British beef available on shelves during the festive period. Further complaints have now come forward from other areas of England expressing the same concerns.

When consumers questioned the supermarket giant as to the lack of British product available, Tesco’s response was as follows:

 “We are constantly reviewing product quality on the beef that is purchased and we have found at this moment we are finding the beef from Ireland to be of a better quality for our customers.
This is the reason for you seeing so much Irish beef on the shelves, customer satisfaction is very important to us and we are constantly monitoring our products.”

Commenting on Tesco’s response, Chris Mallon, Chief Executive of the NBA stated,

“It is shameful for Tesco to blame the quality of British product for its absence on Tesco shelves. The real reason is their buying policy which prioritises “cheapest first”. It shows a complete disregard for Tesco’s UK suppliers to put out statements falsely informing consumers that British product is inferior, instead of admitting that they source on price.

Tesco’s decision to abandon British beef on the run up to Christmas can be explained by a snapshot of prices paid to farmers, for the week ending the 18/11/17 when supermarkets were sourcing meat for the festive season. The British average price was 378.9p/kg whilst ROI was in sterling terms 333.7p/kg. Hence, ROI beef was a cheap substitute to British Beef and therefor more appealing to Tesco red meat buyers.

I have spoken to several beef processors, of which none had experienced any problems with the quality or availability of British beef at the end of 2017. A blatant lie from the supermarket giant.

British beef is renowned worldwide for its provenance, traceability, eating quality and high welfare standards. I am intrigued by the assessment procedures used by Tesco to analyse beef quality when they passed judgement that British beef was inferior.

As we move into a post Brexit trading scenario the Tesco “cheapest first” buying policy will be destructive to British farmers and consumers.  Their buying policy will eventually not increase choice but reduce it as British producers leave the industry after being swamped with food produced under standards unacceptable in the UK.

Consumers want to buy British beef and I give Tesco the opportunity to make the same commitment to buying British as local farm shops, Co-op, Morrisons, Waitrose, M&S, Lidl and Aldi.”