British farmers reeling as Asda makes U-turn on beef pledge

British farmers have been left reeling following a U-turn on a commitment made by supermarket Asda, which has been labelled “another sudden blow to those already struggling across the farming industry”.

Just over a year ago, under new ownership, the supermarket vowed to source only British beef for shoppers.

In October last year, the supermarket met that target and began stocking 100 per cent British beef, but has now backtracked on that promise due to a “significant” rise in prices.

The policy change will see Asda also offering Irish beef to customers, which is currently around 20 per cent cheaper, alongside that sourced in Britain.

A spokesperson for Asda stated: “Whilst we continue to work hard to keep prices as low as possible for our customers, these increases are significant.”

They added: “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.”

The managing director of ethical online food retailer, 44 Foods, has voiced her disappointment in the grocer’s decision.

44 Foods brings together a collective of farmers and producers from across the UK, and has called on major supermarkets to “fully commit to championing British produce by properly supporting our homegrown producers”.

The retailer has also campaigned for a fair price for farmers, reflecting the true cost of beef which is produced to the highest welfare standards.

Hannah Anderson, managing director, commented: “We know from working with our own producers that over recent years, British farmers have faced many challenges with prices being well below the cost of production, resulting in a declining British beef herd.

“Recent increases in prices for livestock, rising feed prices, labour and fuel have added even more pressure.

“We’ve been open and honest with our own customers, contacting them back in April to explain the reasoning behind price increases for our beef products.

“That’s why it’s so disappointing to see this latest announcement from Asda in, what is, another sudden blow to those already struggling across the farming industry.”
She continued: “Inflation and deflation of beef prices are determined by many independent variables, including consumer demand, supply of livestock and imports.

“By supporting our British farmers, you enable them to re-invest in their businesses, ensuring their viability, allowing them to raise their stock to the highest welfare standards and it means that they can continue to offer customers the best quality British beef.

“At 44 Foods, we champion fair trade and sustainable food production, and we are committed to paying producers a fair price that reflects the true cost of producing beef and lamb to the highest welfare standards.

“We’ve seen through our own business that customers are willing to pay that little bit more for the peace of mind that their meat hasn’t been imported from far and wide and want to support British producers.

“We know that the demand is there and it’s time for bigger supermarkets to fully commit to championing British produce by properly supporting our homegrown producers,” Hannah concluded.