Tesco "questionable" chicken move

Tesco has admitted shipping Scottish chickens for processing in Essex and back again, to sell on the Scottish market.

The retailer, which described the situation as an "anomaly" and admitted it was "highly questionable" from a food miles point of view, said the situation was a case of "Hobson's choice".

Max Tooley, meat technical manager for poultry, said: "Last year the Grampian Country Food Group closed its Banff site, which didn't leave us any option."

As a result, he said, Scottish chicken from Grampian's Cooper Angus slaughter plant was being sent to a plant in Essex for processing into portions before being shipped back for sale in Scotland.

However, he said, the situation, which has been in place for around six months now, would soon be changed with the approval of a new processing plant in Scotland. "Two Sisters has recently bought Mitchell Brothers in Scotland and we're waiting to approve their site for all our Scottish chicken."

He said that once the site, which he added had invested up to £2m in its processing facilities, was approved, Tesco would be switching its Scottish poultry business to Two Sisters, possibly within the next four weeks.

Richard Watts, campaign director at Sustain, described the situation as "crazy". He said: "It is an illogical thing to do and the carbon emissions that result will be extremely damaging to the environment. Considering the significant contribution of the food industry to the UK's greenhouse gas emissions, this kind of practice should be the first to go if companies such as Tesco are serious about their overall responsibility in relation to the climate change crisis."

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