Following a meeting with representatives from Tesco to discuss a range of issues including: the crisis situation facing Northern Ireland’s beef farmers; the retailer’s lamb procurement policy; concerns in relation to the potato and vegetable sectors; the pig meat price differential between Northern Ireland and Great Britain; and concerns in relation to the poultry sector the Ulster Farmers’ Union came away with mixed feelings.

UFU President Ian Marshall said; “Overall we had a useful meeting with Tesco, although it can be described as a bit of a ‘mixed bag’ and for some of our sectors things were slightly more positive than others. We requested the meeting with Tesco with the aim to ensure that they truly understand the current reality facing farmers, in particular beef farmers, and to outline a number of important issues that are concerning our members. Following the horsemeat scandal Tesco has made significant efforts to rebuild consumer confidence and to promote local products, and while these moves have been positive we still have concerns and believe the retailer could be doing more to support local suppliers.

“The lack of engagement that currently exists in the supply chain in relation to pricing structures and specifications is simply not good enough. Tesco acknowledged this, which is a positive, and outlined that in their plan for Agriculture they want to build better relationships with farmers and that greater engagement is required to ensure that the standards their customers want are realistic and achievable for the farming industry. We welcomed this commitment and will be watching closely to see if it is delivered on.”