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Tesco meat vow 'won't push up cost'
NFU president Peter Kendall has called on retailers to source high quality, traceable products from farmers in the UK
Tesco has announced it will be sourcing more meat from UK producers, as supermarkets came under pressure to sell more British food in the wake of the horse meat scandal.
The supermarket giant's chief executive Philip Clarke made a "sincere commitment" to source more meat closer to home, with all fresh chicken coming from British suppliers from July as a first step, and insisted the changes would not make food more expensive.
His comments come after farming leaders demanded that supermarkets stop scouring the world for the cheapest food they could find and instead support the British products consumers want.
Mr Clarke told the National Farmers' Union annual conference: "Where it is reasonable to do so, we will source from British producers. As a first step I announce that from July all of our fresh chicken must come from UK farmers. No exceptions.
"And we will move over time to make sure all our chicken in all our products, fresh or frozen, is from the British Isles," he said, to applause from farmers.
He also said Tesco would conduct a root and branch review of its supply chains as part of a genuine shift in how the company sourced the products it sold, and that part of the new approach would be working directly with farmers and growers.
But he said: "It does not follow that the the measures I'm announcing today means food becomes more expensive."
He said Tesco was committed to delivering high quality food at every price, and said that as market leader, it was the supermarket's responsibility to lead the way out of the horse meat crisis.
NFU president Peter Kendall said supermarkets had put damaging pressure on processors to force down the price of food, but those processors were ultimately responsible for the "fraud", because "they should have told the retailers to get stuffed, that you can't do eight burgers for a pound".
Mr Kendall said there had been "real shock" that consumers had been deceived over what they buy, when it emerged burgers and other meat products had been contaminated with horse meat. He called on retailers to source high quality, traceable products from farmers in the UK and for an end to marketing campaigns which dressed up foreign imports in a "homely British-sounding name" to fool consumers.