Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Need for 'big brother' in UK supermarkets

You have to feel for British livestock farmers with news that two UK supermarket giants - ASDA and Tescos - plan to slash grocery prices across their stores again, to meet the growing economic problems of their customers.

However, calls for a supermarket ombudsman by farmers may not be falling on deaf ears. As prices on meat products continue to drop to uneconomic levels, Britain is having to import more and more meat - which is not something the Government wants to encourage.

The feeling is that if the supermarkets continue to charge ridiculously low prices for food, farmers may get their wish - and not before time with ASDA offering three packs of fresh meat for just ten pounds, and 100 different frozen products for $1 pound each.

Last year Irish farmers named and shamed those supermarkets who were forcing them out of business with predatory pricing. At the time Irish pork producers were losing between 25 and 30 pounds per pig while supermarkets were discounting the price of pork by up to 50%. Chicken producers complained about two for one deals, as Tescos came out with a 1.99 pound bird. But it seems the supermarkets are back to their old tricks and only too happy to import low quality meat of dubious origin.

As I've said before in this column there is a great need to educate the British consumer on what they are eating and to encourage them to look after their health by buying meat that is produced to a higher standard.

But after watching a rerun of Jamie's school dinners I think, sadly, it may all be a little too late.

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