Announcing Pork Link, Jim Viggars, Asda senior meat buyer, told MTJ that the supermarket chain wants to be perceived as a responsible retailer and lead by example. Pork Link is due to be launched by the end of this year.
Asda has also pledged to support British farmers and grow beef sales by 12% through its existing Beef Link initiative in the coming year. "We are the fastest-growing retailer, with a market share position up 25% in value and 19% in volume," said Viggars.
Historically, Asda required beef carcases of below 400kg deadweight, but that has now moved up to 550kg, Viggars explained. "This has the dual benefit of increasing the output of British beef and it will allow farmers to recoup the investments made in superior genetics over the years," he said.
Farmers supplying carcases for Asda's Extra Special Beef Range, which meets conformation grades E or U with a lean fat 2 or 3 and within a 300-380kg are being paid an extra special bonus of 10p/kg above the market price.
"We are offering farmers better returns with our key move towards larger carcases up to 550kg. They will get an extra 10p bonus on top of the 10p we already pay them. That is 20p/kg extra and we will be paying that quarterly."
Viggars said that this price was not negotiable, as his directive was to see what the market will bear in terms of price increases. "However, we do pay our farmers within 24 hours of the animal being brought in and slaughtered. We have 10,000 producer groups and they all know they will get a fair price from ABP," he added. "They can stand and watch their cattle being graded, which we do to MLC specifications, offering them a better return than from other retailers who have their own reference standard."
This month, Asda has also launched new packaging, which will identify country-of-origin more clearly, to address the accusations of co-mingling that have been levelled at retailers.