More suppliers sought as Tesco Finest range increases in popularity
The growing popularity of
quality beef, as well as organic beef and lamb, means that South Wales based St Merryn Foods is looking for more farmer suppliers.
Extra supplies of quality animals are being sought to meet demand for Tesco Finest beef products and its range of organic meats. To encourage farmers to join up,
contracts that offer forward
prices and allow for accurate future
planning are now being offered.
St Merryn's livestock
director, John Dracup, said the
Merthyr Tydfil based company is looking for extra suckler-bred,
traditionally-reared cattle to meet the huge growth in demand.
"Year-on-year growth in terms of volume is looking excellent so we're looking for thousands of extra cattle and a considerable number of farmers to join us in meeting the opportunities ahead," he said.
The specification laid down for Tesco's Finest range means that traditional farming systems must be used and the cattle must be supplementary fed for the final 90 days to ensure that maximum
eating quality characteristics of the meat are achieved.
Animals ranging from 14 to 30 months in age will be eligible,
depending on the farming regime employed. A wide range of
commercial beef breeds will
qualify. Steers and heifers will be accepted, but not young bulls.
St Merryn is offering 5p a kg above the standard price for
animals that meet the criteria, and match the specification of weights and grades.
Opportunities are looking equally promising for organic beef and lamb farmers, and those thinking about entering the
market. "Year-on-year growth in organic meat sales is huge," said Dracup. "It's growing significantly and Tesco suggests that it's going to grow at a considerable rate over the next three-to-five years."
Organic supplies are fully
audited so farmers who consider applying to St Merryn will have to be members of a Defra
recognised organic farming scheme, such as ones run by the Soil Association and Organic Farmers and Growers.
"We're offering forward
contracts on the supply of both
organic beef and lamb so we can give farmers a far better idea of what they can earn," said Dracup.
Farmers thinking of going over to organic production should be aware that there is a two-year
"We're offering long term
forward prices so that people can budget and plan accordingly," said Dracup. He warned those
considering taking the step to seek out definite customers first. That will allow for a managed change and greatly lessen the risk of the
market suddenly being flooded with organic produce.
Tesco has said its plan over the next five years is to substantially grow its Finest, Organic, Standard, Value and Health brands.
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