Major British retailer to totally ban foreign fresh meat from its shelves
Retailer singles out Ireland as biggest 'beneficiary' of UK meat imports
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.