Representatives from the UFU Beef and Lamb committee and Hill Farming committee met with ASDA’s UK red meat buyer to discuss matters relating to beef and lamb.
ASDA has given a commitment that they will be sourcing more UK origin beef and lamb this year than ever before. This will include buying into the UK new season lamb market earlier than previous years, while no longer sourcing Australian lamb.
New product development was discussed with ASDA maintaining that red meat is not selling as well because of major competition from white meat which is comparatively cheaper, however they also noted that consumption of meat in general was lower than it would have been historically.
The UFU was however pleased to note that ASDA is in the process of developing new red meat products and innovative packaging which they believe will deliver a higher quality product which also has a convenience factor for modern day families who are spending less time preparing food, to try and drive sales.
ASDA argued that they have seen limited value from breed schemes such as Angus/Hereford and believe their customers are more interested in dry aged primal cuts.
The UFU outlined that there have been issues with changes in specification for cattle in the past and that this is creating practical difficulties and financial hardship.
UFU office bearers argued that long term notice and an understanding of the rationale behind changes in specification was necessary if ASDA had a view to doing this, although they did confirm that they are not in favour of lifetime assurance for beef.
The price differential was also discussed, with ASDA arguing that this was a matter outside of their control. The UFU however disagreed and requested that ASDA talk to their senior management and processor suppliers about how NI farmers can receive comparable prices with farmers in GB.
Following concerns highlighted at the UFU’s last meeting with ASDA in February about in-store butchers selling imported meat rather than local, the UFU welcomed ASDA’s pledge to move to 100% UK red meat in in-store butchers from the middle of 2016 onwards.