UFU meet Tesco on beef and lamb

Friday, 14 November, 2014

The Ulster Farmers’ Union met with Tesco’s Director of Agriculture Tom Hind and Northern Ireland Commercial Manager Cliff Kells this week to discuss a range of issues including: lamb procurement and promotion; red meat specifications; Tesco’s sustainable beef and lamb groups; and the pork price differential. The meeting was a follow up to the UFU/Tesco meeting held in September.

UFU President Ian Marshall said: “We had a constructive meeting with Tesco and were able to discuss a number of issues that are currently facing our beef, lamb and pork producers. In terms of beef, we have encouraged Tesco to think longer-term about market signals and to ensure there is more communication and transparency when it comes to specifications. It would be of mutual benefit to retailers and supplies if there were to be consultation with industry on specifications and also if retailers would share the evidence they use to support certain specifications. These actions would demonstrate a willingness to work with closely with producers and go some of the way to helping to create a more functional and integrated supply chain.

“With regards to lamb, we had previously written to and met with Tesco to express our disappointment at the imbalance between NI and New Zealand lamb in their stores particularly during our peak seasonal supply period. This situation has improved but we would still like to see more local lamb available in Tesco. We were however encouraged at this meeting that Tesco has plans to stock more NI lamb going forward and we will be working with them to ensure more NI lamb is on the shelves in future.

“We were particularly interested to discuss Tesco’s sustainable Beef/Lamb groups that exist across the water and we were interested to explore if something similar could be set up here. We also queried Tesco on the unfair price differential for pigmeat between NI and GB.

“Overall it was a useful meeting and Tesco do appear to be making an effort to engage more with Northern Ireland’s producers. The UFU will continue to monitor the situation and keep in contact with Tesco with regards to the concerns we have raised.”