Despite increasing consumer demand for mince amid the Covid-19 situation, social media images have begun to circulate showing Polish beef labelled ‘reduced to clear’ left on store shelves.
Last week saw ABP Food Group supply 400 tonnes of Polish beef to Sainsbury’s and Asda to ‘temporarily alleviate pressure on UK processing capacity and meet growing consumer demand’, sparking harsh criticism from the farming industry.
However, the images show some of this meat went unsold, suggesting consumers have shunned the imported mince in favour of British.
National Beef Association (NBA) branded the supermarkets’ decision to sell Polish meat as ‘out of touch’ at a time when the country is ‘pulling together in a flush of patriotic fervour’.
In separate letters to Asda’s chief executive officer Roger Burnley and Sainsbury’s counterpart Mike Coupe, NBA trustee Neil Shand expressed his ‘disappointment’ at their decision to import beef products during the coronavirus pandemic given the ‘plentiful supply of quality, traceable and safe home-secured produce available in the UK’.
Mr Shand questioned the safety guarantee of imported beef products, calling from the CEOS to confirm and evidence the source farms in Poland comply with the ‘same rigorous conditions that British farms must adhere to in order to supply to their respective stores’.
He went on to suggest the symbiotic relationship with British agriculture and the supermarkets requires some adaptation to the current situation to ensure the continued excellent choice of home-secured produce.
“For example, special offers on steaks and roasting joints, along with recipe cards, could help address the imbalance in the supply chain created by the closure of the restaurant sector”, he said.
“At a later date, when the crisis is over and the luxury of choice is handed back to the public, perhaps they will remember which supermarkets backed Britain. Please do not play a part in killing British agriculture. Remember, once it’s gone, it’s gone."
Copies of the letters can be found on the NBA website at www.nationalbeefassociation.com/news/