THE Co-operative has committed to sourcing all its own-brand meat from British farms, as part of a £1.5bn investment in UK farming.
The move comes as research shows that nine out of 10 shoppers want supermarkets to sell more British produce.
Almost three-quarters (73%) of the 2,050 people surveyed for Co-operative Food said they had more confidence in British sourced food, and 86% felt that food from UK farms was more traceable.
More than eight out of 10 people (84%) said it was important to them to buy British food, the survey by Opinion Matters found.
The commitment from Co-operative Food will mean all the own brand meat in its stores - with the exception of New Zealand lamb and Danish bacon - will be British, as will all meat in ready meals, pies and sandwiches, unless it is continental produce such as chorizo.
Co-operative Food stores will only offer 100% British milk, and provide only 100% fresh British beef, chicken, ham, pork, sausages, duck and turkey, as well as supporting UK lamb when it is in season, the company said.
British products will clearly be identified on packaging and in store, it added.
Steve Murrells, Co-operative Food’s retail chief executive, said: “At the heart of our pledge is a commitment to be open and honest about where the food we sell comes from and to ensure that it is marketed and promoted in a fair and transparent way.
“Trust in retailers has been dented in recent years and we hope our openness about where we source our meat, poultry and produce will encourage more retailers to follow suit.”
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss welcomed the “fantastic vote of confidence” in the UK food and drink industry.
“We know British consumers value products from this country which have a world-renowned reputation for their high quality and traceability,” she said.
“These figures show shoppers want to buy more British - we’re supporting this by improving country of origin labelling, which will be mandatory for lamb, pork, poultry and goat meat from April next year.
“I would encourage all supermarkets to carefully consider the labelling on their products so their customers know exactly where their food comes from.”
National Farmers’ Union president Meurig Raymond said: “Almost nine out of 10 people feel that food is more traceable when sourced from UK farms and this further reinforces the growing role British produce plays in major retailers delivering a product that consumers want and trust.
“It is reassuring to see a major retailer clearly setting out its commitments to UK produce in a transparent and reviewable fashion.”