Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 22 February 2018

'British-only beef' campaign sparks export fears for farmers

According to The Co-operative’s own research in the so-called ‘Born and Bred’ report, meat imports into the UK doubled over the past 20 years. (Stock picture)
According to The Co-operative’s own research in the so-called ‘Born and Bred’ report, meat imports into the UK doubled over the past 20 years. (Stock picture)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Irish farmers and exporters have been dealt a serious blow after UK supermarket chain the Co-op announced it would sell only British fresh meat.

The supermarket giant is the first retailer to push for a 'British-only' style campaign to prepare for Brexit.

The Co-op singled out Ireland as the "biggest beneficiary of EU meat trade with the UK".

And it called on other supermarkets and food service providers to "back home-grown goods" from Britain so that "British food" may take "pride of place in our British aisles".

The move is bound to be viewed as a serious blow to Irish meat exporters and farmers.

There is concern that other supermarkets such as Morrisons and Tesco could follow suit.

The Irish Farmer's Association said last night: "Irish beef is supplied to numerous outlets in the UK based on long established relationships and a reputation for quality. The IFA is looking for this trading arrangement to continue into our most valuable market."

An estimated €1.65bn worth of meat is shipped from here to the UK annually.

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According to The Co-operative's own research in the so-called 'Born and Bred' report, meat imports into the UK doubled over the past 20 years.

"Since 1996, the quantity of meat coming to the UK from the EU and other countries has soared from £3bn (€3.5bn) to £6.2bn (€7.3bn).

"More than £5bn (€5.9bn) worth of meat is now shipped from EU member states," it said.

"Ireland is the biggest beneficiary of EU meat trade with the UK, with £1.45bn (€1.65bn) of meat arriving in the UK from across the Irish Sea."

Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive of the Co-op, said: "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.

The 'Born and Bred' report says the Co-op's three-year commitment (2015-2018) to investing in British agricultural supply chains across the UK will allow it to implement "our purpose of championing a better way of doing business".

The Co-op claims that 73pc of its shoppers have more confidence in British-sourced food.

When contacted by the Irish Independent last night, a spokesperson for Bord Bia said that The Co-op chain in Britain is not currently a customer of Irish meat exporters.

"As a result, we do not anticipate there will be any impact on our trade with the UK," the spokesperson added.

Irish Independent





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