British retail giant is backing Irish beef
Tesco rules out cheap imports from South America as Commissioner warns against panic
The UK's biggest supermarket chain has insisted it has no plans to import cheap beef from South America post-Brexit amid concerns over Ireland's valuable export trade.
It comes in a week where fears over the knock-on impact on Irish family farms was raised as the UK unveiled its worst-case tariffs and import quotas in the case of a crash out of the EU.
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan swiftly moved to dampen fears, urging Irish farmers not to panic. He believes, even in a no-deal scenario, that demand for premium Irish products like beef and cheese in the UK will remain steady.
"We have had assurances from the UK that they will maintain EU food standards as a minimum. The British shopper is a discerning individual and will not suddenly abandon quality Irish produce because of price increases due to tariffs," the Commissioner told the Farming Independent. Mr Hogan stressed that Ireland is in line for a major share of a €500m package in EU farm supports if a no-deal Brexit happens.
Tesco UK beef manager Hannah Donegan insisted that South American beef was "out of the question" for the supermarket giant's shelves as customers were discerning when it came to quality produce, saying the carbon footprint was also key.
She said the retailer only sells Irish and British beef in the UK and has no plans to source from elsewhere, as much of the product in South America does not meet Tesco's strict quality standards.
"There's a combination of parameters that are important to consumers, with the top two being price and quality. South America is out of the question. We currently source for the UK market all of our beef from the UK and Ireland," Ms Donegan told the Farming Independent.
"If we are to use new supply chains they must meet the requirements that we adhere to within the UK market."