Asda/ABP's groundbreaking BeefLink producer group scheme celebrated its fifth birthday this week, a significant achievement in an ever turbulent red meat market.
Asda senior red meat trader Jim Viggars
scheme, which runs nationwide across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland, was established in 2007 and since its inception has been focussed on
improving both producer returns and beef quality available to Asda shoppers,
explained Asda senior red meat trader Jim Viggars.
at a celebration event at York Racecourse on Tuesday 27 November Mr Viggars
said Asda had set out to work with leading farmers and ensure continuity of
quality for Asda customers. "We've achieved this by forming closer working
relationships with our supplier farmers and rewarding them more for producing
the type of top quality beef we need week in, week out.
BeefLink was formed farmgate beef prices were hovering around the 200p/kg mark
and producers were struggling to make decent margins in beef production,"
at Asda recognised that we had to change things of we were to have British beef
to supply our stores with. We set about putting in place a range of measures
aimed at helping farmers maximise both quality and returns.
wasn't the normal route for retailers, but we wanted to break the mould and get
closer to our farmers. Only by listening to each other and working in
partnership can we all be better at what we do."
the most immediate actions taken was to reward farmers for meeting the top
specification and communicate clearly exactly what Asda was looking for, added
Mr Viggars. "Having cattle which meet specification works for everyone,
farmers earn more, processors have less waste to dispose of, retailers have
excellent product on their shelves and consumers enjoy the beef they buy."
helping BeefLink farmers increase the number of cattle meeting specification
has been a key driver behind the BeefLink Improved Genetics initiative which
has allowed BeefLink farmers to obtain semen from a number of leading bulls at
significantly discounted rates, added Asda agricultural manager Pearce Hughes.
enabling farmers to use better genetics they gain through on-farm efficiencies
and improved carcass grading and hence improved margins.
top of the standard breeds available we have also sourced Wagyu semen to enable
our BeefLink farmers to tap in to a premium market at the same time as
benefitting from improved calving ease. Wagyu is the ideal sire for heifers and
produces a great beef carcass which earns BeefLink farmers a premium over
with BeefLink farmers on the Wagyu project enabled Asda to be the first UK
supermarket to bring Wagyu sired beef, a premium product, to the mainstream
market, added Mr Hughes.
other schemes, such as the Heavy Beef Scheme, the Once Bred Heifer Scheme and
the Over Thirty Month Scheme we've given all BeefLink farmers the opportunity
to earn top prices for all their cattle, delivering value to them and
maximising efficiency in beef production."
celebration event also saw a number of BeefLink producers rewarded for going
the extra mile in supplying beef to Asda.
awards for loyalty, delivering exceptional consistency and working in
collaboration with ABP and Asda were; G K Robertson, Forfar, Robert Trimble,
Northern Ireland, Les Morgan, Leominster and Maurice Hymas, Harrogate.
collecting a long service award for being the longest continuous supplier of
beef to Asda through ABP was James Davies, Condover, who has been supplying
ABP's Shrewsbury plant for 23 years.
rewarded for his ongoing support for Asda, including helping create Asda's
first farmer focussed advert was Adrian Ivory, Perth.
BeefLink demonstation farmer Mike Powley, York, was also recognised for his
continued innovation in beef production and delivering improved productivity
through uptake of new technologies.
farmer Adam Quinney also picked up an award for his work in driving forward the
first BeefLink Progeny Testing Unit which was developed as a result of his
BeefLink Scholarship which funded his study tour to both the USA and France.
Asda agricultural manager Elwyn Pugh said all the award winners represented the
very best of BeefLink farmers. "These winners are the pinnacle of our
supply base, but the real winners today are all the BeefLink farmers who have
been supplying top quality beef for the last five years.
helped us deliver great beef to Asda shoppers. But more importantly they've
helped deliver a sustainable, profitable future for both their own businesses
and the wider UK beef indsutry."
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