LMC chief executive Ian Stevenson expressed his disappointment at the decision made by the chain to stop labelling retail packs with the Northern Ireland Beef and Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (FQAS) logo.
The move has come less than a month after MeatInfo.co.uk revealed Sainsbury’s was to remove the Red Tractor logo from retail packs also.
Stevenson explained that Sainsbury’s said it will remove the FQAS label as too many logos were causing customers to be confused. He said: “After seeking clarification from Sainsbury’s, LMC, who own and manage FQAS on behalf of our local beef and sheep meat industry, have received confirmation from Sainsbury’s UK headquarters that the FQAS logo will, as with the Red Tractor logo, be removed from retail packs in Sainsbury’s stores across Northern Ireland. This is very disappointing news for our domestic industry.”
Stevenson also said the move would deny Sainsbury’s customers the opportunity to look for the FQAS logo and the assurance it provides. According to Stevenson, the FQAS logo assured the customer that Farm Quality Assured beef and lamb had been produced on farms certified to designated assurance standards.
A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s told MeatInfo.co.uk: “Customers have told us that too many logos are confusing, so we will be phasing out the use of the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assurance Scheme logo on pack. We will still use the standards as part of our wider sourcing standards.
“The forthcoming EU changes to food labelling regulations have led us to review and prioritise the information we put on our packaging, customers can easily identify Northern Ireland origin through the Taste NI logo on pack.”
The Sainsbury’s spokeswoman also said the chain was now doing more than ever to support UK farmers. She added that it was Sainsbury’s aim to double the sales of British food by 2020. Adding: “Over the last five years we’ve invested £40 million into British farming.
“Only last month we announced a new £1 million agricultural fund to support British farmers, and we were recently awarded for our leadership and innovation in retail by Compassion in World Farming.”
However, this was little comfort to Stevenson who said: “LMC’s message to consumers is very simple, beef and lamb in packs carrying the FQAS logo is guaranteed to be from an independently inspected and certified farm in Northern Ireland.”