Supermarkets turn to local producers

UK SUPERMARKETS are committing more to local produce following a growing public concern over the environmental damage caused by meat imports, says the Soil Association.

UK chains are now sourcing more of their organic meat in particular from UK producers, according to the trade body's Supermarket Survey. The scale of carbon emissions from the ?ying in of food imports, plus their contribution to global warming, have both risen to the top of the media agenda over the past year, and supermarkets have had to respond to the alarm this has caused among consumers.

The report says that while Tesco, Asda and Morrisons were all importing "huge amounts" of organic pork and beef - with much of the latter coming from Argentina - the chains were all increasingly committing to UK produce, with Tesco reporting the most dramatic rise.

The survey states that Tesco has responded positively to the consumer pressure, and currently buys 74% of its organic pork and 71% of organic beef from UK producers - compared to 58% and 52% respectively last year. It adds that Asda raised its UK sourcing of beef to 74%, and that 30% of its organic pork comes from UK producers. Morrisons sources 55% of it pork from UK producers but obtains the least amount of UK-sourced beef - 30%. Marks and Spencer sources 100% of its lamb from the UK and all eight supermarkets surveyed sourced more than 90% of their lamb from UK producers.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said: "This increase gives consumers greater access to good quality, fresh food, and farmers more stable outlets for their produce. It also bene?ts the environment by reducing the transportation of food half way round the world that can be better grown at home."

Hugh Mowat, food technologist at Marks and Spencer, said the store saw the ?gures as recognition of the work they had put into sourcing as much UK organic food as possible. Ruth Bailey, Sainsbury's organic brand manager said: "Customers are increasingly saying that they want to know where their food comes from and that freshness is important."

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