Farmers’ Union of Wales slams ASDA over withdrawal from British beef pledge in favour of cheaper imports
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has slammed ASDA after the supermarket’s decision to step away from its pledge to source 100% fresh British beef just weeks after implementing the pledge.
The supermarket chain had said in October of last year that they were supporting British farms, but have now confirmed that due to a rise in prices they would source some beef from the Republic of Ireland instead.
But the FUW said that members were “angry” and “disappointed” at the move. They said that they had met with representatives from ASDA on a number of occasions throughout the pandemic to discuss the importance of supporting Welsh and UK producers at a time when global food supply chains were most volatile.
In a letter to ASDA, FUW President Glyn Roberts said that “the recent decision to withdraw the pledge to source 100% fresh British beef after only two months of doing so has come as a shock for FUW members, particularly given the fact that other major retailers have committed to maintain such promises despite current market conditions.”
While the UK red meat sector has experienced buoyant prices over the past twelve months, Mr Roberts wrote, this must be considered in the context of cuts having already been made to farm support payments in England, increased input costs, supply chain issues which ASDA will also have experienced and uncertainties surrounding further red tape, future agricultural support and the impact of trade deals.
“For example, during the week ending 1st January 2022 the GB deadweight price for all cattle was on average 10% higher year on year whilst GB fertiliser prices in November 2021 were on average 153% higher than 2020 levels,” he said.
“In light of the great deal of uncertainty and volatility facing the UK agricultural industry, the FUW would urge ASDA to reconsider its commitment to sourcing 100% fresh British beef in order to provide certainty to UK producers that they won’t simply be replaced in future.”
A spokesperson by ASDA said: “We know that it is important to our customers that the beef on our shelves has been produced to high welfare standards and is affordable,” ASDA said.
“Unfortunately, the price of British beef has risen and whilst we continue to work hard to keep prices as low as possible for our customers, these increases are significant.
“All fresh beef in our premium Extra Special tier is and will remain 100% British and all of our fresh beef will be sourced from farms in the UK and Republic of Ireland. This allows us to provide quality products which caters to all customer budgets.’’
The National Beef Association also expressed its disappointment with the decision.
“This is a commercial decision based on a price difference and it is deeply disappointing that Asda has not managed to fulfil their commitment for more than three months,” said NBA chief executive Neil Shand.
“The industry will be deeply saddened especially given the support that retailers had during the pandemic to then not be able to support them in return.
“If I was Asda, I would be concerned what food price inflation their customers are going to face next year when prices will have to rise to account for spiralling input costs.
“The era of cheap food is gone. We are all experiencing energy inflation, next to come will be food price inflation.”
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