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

Press Release - Rapid change in supermarket approach to food buying and food pricing urgently needed

19th February 2013

Region: National

Supermarkets, and a disappointed British public, are paying the price for the short sighted, price-led, purchasing tactics mistakenly deployed by frontline retail, buyers for decades, says the National Beef Association (NBA).

“They adopted a bullying culture aimed exclusively at securing as much farm food as possible, for as little cost as possible, and the result is tortured supply chains that add so much unnecessary cost that short cuts on quality and traceability, and even cheating by some suppliers, was inevitable,” explained NBA national director, Chris Mallon.
“These misguided tactics have to be quickly reversed if further collapse in consumer confidence in the UK’s food supply chains is to be avoided. This can only be done if a real and permanent effort is made to correct decades of misapplied endeavour and a new approach to food purchasing is adopted.”

“The multiples must start by focussing as much buying as possible on the high quality, high provenance, food that is grown on nearby British farms. If they do this they can secure both current and future supplies of essential products as long as they also make sure that all participants in the supply chain adequately cover their costs.”

“One of the most immediate moves should be the elimination of profit taking, middlemen, like processors who add avoidable cost to the supply system at the same time, as has been made obvious over the last month, they reduce the control retailers should have over the origin and provenance of their purchases.”

“In the red meat sector more supermarkets must adopt the Morrison’s model and bring processing in-house or else organise deliveries from an exclusive, single site, supplier like Waitrose.”

And retailers also need to show the British public that the continued racking down of food prices will ultimately make it more difficult to secure enough good food from trusted sources.

“The on-going horsemeat scandal has demonstrated conclusively that consumers only get what they pay for and that continued price reduction will jeopardise food quality,” said Mr Mallon.

“Concentrating on cheapness is myopic. In real terms British consumers are currently paying 20 per cent less for food than they did a decade ago. This trend cannot possibly continue because the world population is exploding and it is already clear world food production cannot keep up with it.”

“The global food market is changing fast and supermarkets now need, for their own long term survival as well as the long term wellbeing of their customers, to persuade consumers they can no longer spend just ten per cent of their disposable income on food and be prepared, before long, to spend 15 per cent instead.”

“If more effort is made now to price high provenance, high quality, UK produced food correctly then there will be more chance of adequate quantities being available later when food retailing will be dictated entirely by the world-wide struggle to secure everything that is needed and the prices that might otherwise have to be paid will be astronomic,” Mr Mallon added.

For more information contact;
Chris Mallon, NBA national director. Tel. 07796 543647,