A commitment by the Co-op to source only fresh British lamb and bacon has been praised by the NFU.
The move by the retailer was first announced last September and comes into effect from today (Tuesday).
This now means the Co-op sources 100% British beef, chicken, ham, pork, duck and turkey and uses only British meat in all sausages and in its own-label chilled ready meals, pies and sandwiches*.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “The Co-op has long supported British farming, but this bold move now puts farming right at the centre of its business – for that we must applaud them.
“Shoppers tell us time and again that they want to see more British food on supermarket shelves. With the latest consumer trends showing an increase in convenient meals, the Co-op has generated an opportunity for the British sheep industry by extending its commitment further than fresh meat, into pies, ready meals and sandwiches.”
Charles Sercombe, NFU livestock board chairman, added: “I would like to congratulate the Co-op for extending its support of British lamb, especially at this time when we are seeing other major retailers and food service companies curb investment in British agriculture.
“As a first step retailers need to state when they wish to source British lamb, but we would also like to see retailers work with British producers to extend their British season for fresh lamb and help utilise all cuts of meat by using British lamb in their ready to eat and ready meal lines.
“We know that lamb consumption has been under pressure and I firmly believe that the Co-op, with its growing share of the UK convenience retail market, is ideally placed to offer shoppers a tasty alternative in mid-week meals.”