New opportunities for Westcountry's cattle farmers
Buyers from the large supermarket chains are seeking to source more meat from local South West farms, in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
The trend is being viewed as an opportunity not to be missed by Westcountry farmers, endorsing the WMN Buy Local campaign for local produce.
While Waitrose has announced a policy of sourcing Westcountry organic beef, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) is calling on Tesco to honour its commitment to build partnerships with farmers. Senior officers have met Tesco executives to discuss its commitments to "source closer to home".
The move comes after Tesco announced ambitions to become more transparent and to make "real changes" to the way it sources. The supermarket's chief executive, Philip Clarke, made the pledge at the NFU Conference last week.
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The NFU said it welcomed the sentiment and was reassured that the farming industry's biggest customer recognised the important role farmers played in delivering quality food for consumers.
Melanie Squires, NFU South West regional director, said: "We recognise the significance of Tesco's commitments and will be working closely with its team to ensure that the retailer's sentiments and latest commitments deliver real value to the sustainability of our farming industry.
"What we want to see is measurable changes on sourcing, longer-term commitments and improved relationships. The meeting was a first step in working towards these goals and it showed clear signs that Tesco wants to build partnerships.
"There is a lot of work to be done and the NFU will be working to help Tesco deliver."
In a separate move, Westcountry organic beef producers are from this week being invited to supply Waitrose.
David Jasper, managing director of family-run abattoir Jaspers, based near Launceston, has agreed a contract with Dovecote Park to supply as much Westcountry organic beef as he can source.
He explained: "Consumer demand has resulted in Waitrose expanding its organic beef supply. It has chosen Westcountry producers because they are renowned for producing quality beef. On their behalf we shall handle as much beef as we can supply."
Dovecote Park, based in Yorkshire, is the sole beef supplier to Waitrose. All beef sourced by Mr Jasper will be slaughtered at his abattoir and then processed by Dovecote Park.
"This is a very exciting new partnership and a great opportunity for our organic beef producers to capitalise on a new opportunity," added Mr Jasper. "It is important to understand that only quality cattle, but of any breed, will underwrite this partnership. In return, producers will be rewarded for that quality."