Tesco is committed to fully implementing a ‘deforestation-free’ soya protein policy by the beginning of 2025, according to its poultry and eggs manager.

The retailer wants to ensure that all soya protein used in diets to produce the range of eggs and other poultry that it sells will be ‘deforestation-free’ in just over two years’ time.

This was one of the key messages delivered by the company’s poultry and eggs manager, John Kirkpatrick, at the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) poultry conference this week.

Kirkpatrick highlighted this development as a key example of the retailer’s commitment to the global environment and its continuing response to consumers’ changing demands.

He said that Tesco is committed to improving the welfare standards on those farms supplying the retailer with poultry products.

The poultry and eggs manager also said that measures of this nature can only be achieved on the back of “long-term relationships” established with suppliers.

According to Kirkpatrick, Tesco and its suppliers are committed to “high welfare standards”.

He said they are all working together to meet Tesco’s key aim of 100% cage- free eggs by 2025 and he hopes that new long-term contracts will help achieve that commitment.

Kirkpatrick also pointed out that the cost-of-living squeeze that is now impacting across the UK is now having a real effect on consumer shopping patterns.

He said the public wants value for money and Tesco has responded to this demand although every opportunity is also being taken to allow consumers to ‘shop up’ when this is feasible for them.

Tesco’s relationships with suppliers

Kirkpatrick believes strongly that the poultry sector is in a “very strong place” to respond to ongoing market challenges.

“Quality, value, innovation and service level continue to be important within a very challenged market.

“We are in one of the most competitive global retail markets. For me, a strategic partnership with our suppliers is vitally important,” he said.

Kirkpatrick stressed the role of Tesco’s long-term relationships with its suppliers as a key tool in reducing volatility within the poultry sector.

“It’s all about delivering safety, food quality and innovation within the supply chain.

“Improving standards across the board will remain a key priority for Tesco and its customers,” he added.

According to Kirkpatrick, the maintenance of a sustainable food supply chain is critically important for the retailer.

“Using data to drive decision making within our supply chain will become increasingly important.

“Focussing on the role of third parties to deliver improved levels of governance is also important as we look to the future.

“Customers continue to be at the heart of everything that we do,” he said.