UK farm leader aggrieved over ‘domination’ of Irish beef on British shelves

The president of the UK’s leading farm organisation has taken a swipe at what she says is the “domination” of Irish beef produce on the shelves of the UK’s largest retailers.

Minette Batters, the president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), said that there were reports of prime beef stocks in retailers including Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Tesco being predominantly of Irish rather than UK origin.

Batters made the comment last Thursday, April 23, on what was not only St. George’s Day (the patron saint of England), but also the start of ‘Great British Beef Week’.

It is inexcusable to see some of the country’s biggest retailers failing to honour their commitments to sourcing British beef, especially at a time when British prime cuts are in plentiful supply and in desperate need of a market.

“At a time when retailers should be supporting British farmers more than ever and promoting these quality cuts of British beef, it is indefensible that customers who want to support British farmers by buying British food are only finding Irish cuts on shelves in some stores,” Batters said.

The NFU leader signaled out Sainsbury’s in particular, saying the retailer “has a policy that it will source 75% British beef…there is no reason whatsoever that this sourcing policy should not be demonstrated in all their stores”.

Batters pointed to the impact of Covid-19, saying that “prime cuts” of British beef are “being sold into storage with nowhere to go”.

Poland ‘names and shames’ dairy importers

The onset of Covid-19 seems to be bringing about a change of thinking over agri-food trade in certain places.

It was revealed yesterday that the European Dairy Association (EDA) has lodged a formal complaint to the European Commission in response to a decision by the Polish government to “name and shame” plants that are importing dairy produce from abroad.

The move – backed by the Polish government – is designed to encourage “economic patriotism” as the country grapples with the consequences of Covid-19.

However, for the EDA, the development raises significant issues in terms of defending some of the basic principles of the EU – namely, the European Single Market principle and the principle of data protection.