Supermarket giant Tesco has been accused of not stocking enough Scottish beef in its stores in the north of Scotland.
NFU Scotland vice-president, Andrew Connon, said recent visits to stores in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and Ellon in Aberdeenshire had revealed an “alarming amount” of Irish and British beef and a “distinct lack” of Scotch Beef.
He said he had received numerous phone calls on the issue from concerned farmers, crofters and consumers.
Mr Connon questioned recent comments from Tesco, via a press article with Quality Meat Scotland, that all Scottish product had been packaged as British in order to minimise packaging changes in processing plants.
“I must challenge this as in a visit to Tesco in Ellon – a store situated in the heart of one of the biggest cattle finishing areas in the country – of all the packs of beef and lamb on the shelves only one solitary pack of sirloin steaks was branded Scottish,” said Mr Connon.
“And going by the processing plant code this pack of steaks was indeed from an animal slaughtered in Portlethen, Aberdeenshire, but the huge concern for myself is that the majority of the slaughter codes for the British beef, which is supposedly Scottish beef, on the shelves originate from a meat plant in Somerset.”
Mr Connon also criticised Tesco for stocking Irish and British beef, as well as New Zealand lamb, on shelves carrying Scottish flags.
“To have Scottish flags in front of New Zealand lamb and Irish and British beef is simply misleading,” added Mr Connon.
Responding to Mr Connon’s concerns, Tesco said it had not reduced the volume of Scotch Beef and Lamb in its stores nor had it increased the volumes of Irish beef or New Zealand lamb on offer.
The retailer confirmed that Scottish beef and lamb was temporarily being packaged as British and sold across the UK due to a temporary drop in staff numbers at its packaging plant, and said it plans to revert back to Scotch labelling as soon as it is feasible again.