The Co-operative Group is backing British farmers by switching to 100% British meat and poultry for a number of its key own-label ranges.
Under the plans, the Co-op will be converting many of its key product ranges, including Food to Go, chilled ready meals and pies, to using 100% British meat, poultry and fish. However, this will exclude certain products that contain Continental meats, prawns and tuna.
The Co-op, the UK's fifth largest retailer, said the switch demonstrated its commitment to British farmers and support for the NFU's "Back British Farming Charter".
"All our fresh chicken, pork, beef and turkey is 100% British, and switching to 100% British meat and poultry for these key own-brand product ranges forms a large part of the quality message," said Steve Murrells, Co-op Group head of retail.
"In a survey commissioned by the Co-operative earlier this year, 72% of people said it was very important that the UK has a sustainable farming industry, with 22% saying it was quite important."
He added: "This will take Co-operative own-brand products to a new level. We are completely overhauling our own-brand range, and we believe this extensive new product development will encourage customers to re-appraise the Co-operative brand.
"We've adopted a 'back-to-basics' approach - re-evaluating key ranges to ensure they offer our customers carefully chosen, great quality, good-value products as part of our mission to provide delicious food conveniently - whatever the time of day."
The NFU applauded the move and said it demonstrated the retailer's commitment to British farmers.
Phil Hudson, NFU head of food and farming, said: "The Co-operative has already expressed its support to back British farming by signing our new online charter. Today's news really demonstrates the retailer's commitment to British farmers in sourcing only British meat and poultry for its key own-brand ranges.
"Our own survey work showed 78% of people agree or strongly agree that supermarkets should sell more food from British farms and so I welcome the Co-operative's back-to-basics approach to a more direct, transparent and fairer supply chain."
Source: Philip Case, Farmers Weekly
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