Several major foodservice and hospitality brands have vowed not to import US meat unless it is produced to the UK’s standards, a new Footprint investigation has found.
KFC, Aramark, Compass UK and Ireland and InterContinental Hotels Group said they would consider sourcing US meat if a future trade deal required exporters to meet domestic production standards.
But a number of the UK’s most recognisable brands, including McDonald’s, Wetherspoons, Greggs, Burger King, Subway and Starbucks, did not respond to the survey at all.
Vicki Hird, head of sustainable farming at Sustain, warned this lack of openness could erode consumer confidence.
“It is vital consumers can be assured what they eat in canteens and restaurants is of a good standard,” she said.
“The lack of labelling means they have to trust companies, so transparency is vital.”
The survey also showed there was a huge difference in the sourcing patterns of different companies.
For example, Nando’s sources 100 per cent of its chicken from the UK and Ireland, whereas at KFC, the figure was only 53.9 per cent, with 46.1 per cent coming from Europe, Brazil and Thailand.
Across the firms which provided data, 90 per cent of the beef comes from the UK and Ireland, compared to 70 per cent of the chicken, 69 per cent of the lamb and just 58 per cent of the pork.
A number of companies were also found to have sourced beef from South America, a region which World Wide Fund for Nature and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have identified as at high risk of deforestation.
Ms Hird said the low percentage of UK sourcing on pork and chicken ‘raised alarm bells’.
“The UK is far from perfect, but long sourcing chains can only lead to concerns about safety, standards and provenance,” she said.
The major supermarkets have already committed not to source US meat, however foodservice could be a more likely route for US exports as there is no requirement to label the origin.