Asda 'turning back' on farmers after dropping 100% British beef pledge in favour of Irish imports

Credit: PA

Asda has been accused of turning its back on British farmers, having reneged on a commitment to only stock British beef in their stores after only three months.

Neil Shand, the CEO of the British Beef Association told ITV News he was "massively disappointed" by the news.

Asda said it was not abandoning British beef all together but would instead be mixing it with Irish beef.

Mr Shand said: "Our members have worked very hard to support retail during the pandemic it's disappointing at the first opportunity they've had to turn their back on British farmers they've taken it."

An Asda spokesperson told ITV News: "Unfortunately, the price of British beef has risen and whilst we continue to work hard to keep prices as low as possible for our customers, these increases are significant."

Asda added its premium Extra Special range will remain 100% British.

Asda was accused of turning its back on British farmers Credit: PA

The supermarket's commitment to using 100% British beef was only put in place in October last year but rolled back just before Christmas.

According to the Irish Examiner, Irish beef is around 20% cheaper than British beef.

Around 80% of imported beef came from Ireland in 2020, making up for around half of all Irish beef exports.

According to Mr Shand Asda has now left the "elite group" of supermarkets which only stock 100% British beef - consisting of Marks & Spencers, Waitrose, Morrisons, the Coop, Aldi and Lidl.

Mr Shand said the short to medium term impact of Asda's decision would be "minor" but noted the beef industry was coming under pressure from rising costs and post-Brexit international trade deals.

He said he felt particularly disappointed over the fact Asda only committed to the pledge for three months.

Asda's commitment came after it faced backlash, along with Sainsbury's, for stocking Polish beef at the start of the pandemic.

British farmer Joe Stanley tweeted: "Once again, retailers promise to support UK farmers count for nothing. Today Irish, tomorrow Australian & US."

NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay said: “It is incredibly disappointing that Asda has gone back on its commitment to source 100% British beef.

“Our beef is renowned for its quality and high production standards, and retail support plays a big part in enabling farmers to make further investments in climate and environmentally-friendly food production.

“Given the significant changes to trade and agricultural policy, it is more important than ever that our retailers champion British food and farming and that, fundamentally, any sourcing commitments they make are honoured.”