Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 19 August 2017

Major British retailer to totally ban foreign fresh meat from its shelves

Retailer singles out Ireland as biggest 'beneficiary' of UK meat imports

The Irish agri-food industry is extremely exposed to the impact of Brexit, as 40pc of the country’s agri-food exports are destined for the UK market. Stock photo: PA
The Irish agri-food industry is extremely exposed to the impact of Brexit, as 40pc of the country’s agri-food exports are destined for the UK market. Stock photo: PA

British supermarket chain the Co-op has claimed to have become the first UK retailer to commit to selling only British fresh meat.

It says meat imports into the UK have doubled over the last 20 years and has called on more supermarkets and food service providers to back home-grown goods

Since 1996, the quantity of meat coming to the UK from the European Union and other countries has soared from €3.5bn to €7.3bn.

More than €5.9bn worth of meat is now shipped from European Union member states while Asia and Oceania countries account for £804m worth of imports followed by Latin America at €408m.

Asian and Oceanic imports have seen their exports to the UK almost treble from €359m in 1996. The biggest imports from that region come from Thailand (€500m) and New Zealand (€344m).

The co-op singled out Ireland as the biggest beneficiary of EU meat trade with the UK, with €1.65bn of meat arriving in the UK from across the Irish Sea.

Almost a tenth of all meat imports into the UK come from Denmark, which exports €651m worth of meat into Britain each year while New Zealand lamb accounts for €344m worth of UK imports.

Jo Whitfield, Retail Chief Executive, Co-op, said British consumers will be shocked to see how meat imports have grown while at the same time retailers hang out the bunting and claim to back British farmers.


“Only the Co-op offers 100% British fresh meat all year round and not just in the meat cabinet but also in our sandwiches, our pies and our ready meals.

“We can do this because we’re owned by members not shareholders and can invest long-term in what matters to communities, not what provides the fastest shareholder return. I call on other retailers and food providers to do more to help our farmers, particularly as they head towards uncertain times.”


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