MORRISONS has announced it will become the first ‘big four’ supermarket to commit to selling only British fresh meat throughout the year.
The decision means it will stop selling New Zealand and Australian fresh lamb, which it has previously stocked during winter and early spring.
Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, welcomed the move, and said retailer commitment to British farmers was crucial as uncertainty over future trade dynamics increased due to Brexit.
The announcement was part of Morrisons’ wider programme to sell more food which is both British and local, and it has launched a programme to recruit more local food and drink producers who are based close to its stores.
Rob Youngson, meat director at Morrisons, said: “Customers tell us they want more home-grown food and we are listening. We have always been committed to selling British meat and we are taking this a stage further by making a clear pledge that if you buy fresh meat at Morrisons it will be British.”
Morrisons said the fact it owns its own abattoirs and processing sites, such as Woodheads, means it has been able to make the move.
Mr Stocker urged other supermarkets to back British farmers in a similar way.
He said: “This is extremely welcome news and is important as we approach coming out of the EU that supermarkets are backing UK producers.
“Such commitment also means farmers have a responsibility to deliver a quality product which matches requirements of retailers.”
The decision by the Bradford-based retailer, which is this year partnering Farmers Guardian on its 24 Hours in Farming campaign on August 10, refers to unprocessed fresh beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey.