Welcome to the first post in a series of blogs taking a look at the efforts and incentives put in place by a variety of UK retailers when it comes to the British meat industry. This article takes a look at the challenges faced by meat producers, and how Big4 supermarket, Morrisons, has developed initiatives to help support UK farmers.
It’s no secret that the UK meat industry has been demonised in recent years. Reprimanded for its impact on everything from the effects it has on the environment, animal welfare and even public health, the UK meat industry has faced severe public backlash and lobby groups.
Where will our food come from after Brexit? We take a look and discuss imports, exports and markets in another Food Manufacturing blog.
In an open letter to the Government, Dr Gemma Newman from the Plant-Based Health Professionals stated her case for higher taxes and a total cut on subsiding industrial animal farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding centres. In her letter was written, “Three in four of the world’s new or emerging infectious diseases have come from animals… transmitted through the wildlife trade and factory farming.”
Then along came COVID and its rumours of originating from meat bought and consumed from a Chinese wet market. Of course, this isn’t the first time that meat has been the source of disease that has impacted humans. It’s been more than 20 years since the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) infected human.
Although it was first detected in cattle in the 1980s, the later outbreak in humans was thought to have come about from farmers feeding their herds the remains of infected cattle through a product called meat and bone meal. As a result, multiple people died, over four million cattle were slaughtered to prevent the spread of infection, and the Government warned the public about the danger of eating cheap meat.
Since then, a deeper and more widespread understanding of the larger role that the meat industry plays on deforestation, global warming, insights into the ways that animals are fed, housed and slaughtered have seen the vegan market explode and the meat industry shunned. However, once the shock of the COVID19 origins wore off, it appears that the public began to warm to meat products again.
Maybe it was lockdown ushering us all into the kitchen to discover or rediscover our love of cooking from scratch and recreate restaurant meals. Or perhaps it was a result of the general public being cautious where they spent their money on takeaways and fast, convenience food. It could’ve even been the warm weather enjoyed this summer and the BBQs that ensued, but it looks like the global pandemic saw meat come back into favour.
The vegan movement certainly disrupted the food industry through the use of celebrity advocates and shedding light on public health and animal welfare. Read our blog and find out the movement meant for the food industry?
Grocery inflation saw a price hike in bacon, sausages and cooked meats, while fresh meat such as poultry fell. According to Kantar, sales of fresh meat and poultry rose by 8.1% this year, generating an extra amount of over £400 million. Beef saw the most significant growth, followed by chicken, pork, lamb and turkey.
So, what are UK supermarkets doing to support UK farmers and the UK meat industry to continue this upward trajectory? We take a look in this series.
This year, Morrisons began selling restaurant-quality meat for half the RRP in a bid to support UK farmers amid the COVID19 pandemic. The aim was to find a home for surplus produce as demand from restaurants for high-end meat and seafood fell.
The chain also offered a five per cent discount for its 2700 farmers, as a thank you for continuing to feed the nation.
Morrisons has been hailed as ‘British farming’s largest supermarket customer’. The supermarket chain has announced that 100% of the fresh pork, lamb, and poultry they sell is from British farmers. The meat products sold in their stores and online are certified by Red Tractor, and Morrisons was the first retailer to label meat with Red Tractor in 2010.
Their commitment to integrity and transparency means that they do not sell meat under fake farm names, a marketing ploy used by other supermarkets.
The retailer also explores other measures to help develop consistently high standards of animal health and welfare, and they work alongside farmer to make sure that these health, safety and welfare standards are adhered to by the farms that supply them.
Morrisons are actively working to support British farmers, creating the For Farmers range in 2015. This scheme sees part of the retail price of products go back to farmers, and since being implemented the range of foods included was extended. The brand also sponsors the ’24 hours in farming’ event, run by the Farmers Guardian, that encourages British farmers to showcase the effort and care that is put into the process of rearing livestock.
2019 saw Morrisons enter into a partnership with The Princes Countryside Fund, with a donation of £50,000 going to two UK family-owned farms, breeding and rearing livestock, as well as developing their farms more sustainable by growing other crops. £250,000 was previously donated to the fund in 2015, supporting vulnerable family farm businesses.
In our next post, we will be taking a look at how Tesco and Asda have come under fire for the sales of meat and support of the British meat industry.
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