The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has discovered that another Northern Ireland processor, Doherty & Gray, has been importing tonnes of Polish beef.
The news comes just weeks after ABP supplied 400 tonnes of Polish beef to Sainsbury and Asda, as reported by us here.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the farm organisation said: “Farmers have listened to processors declaring difficult trading conditions and of further farmgate deductions that are yet to come, only to learn that their high-quality, local produce is being slighted for imported beef.”
“Doherty & Gray’s beef sourcing tactics are threatening Northern Ireland’s local food security.”
“It’s putting the livelihoods of farm families, who’ve been keeping supermarket shelves well-stocked throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in a disastrous situation which will have a knock-on-effect on the entire nation.
Several members contacted the UFU with concerns of Polish beef being sold locally, bringing the situation to light.
Outraged at this latest discovery, the UFU presidential team said, “Doherty & Gray’s Polish beef imports is having a detrimental impact on our industry at a time when farmers are doing all they can to support the country in its efforts against COVID-19.”
“We have spoken directly to Doherty & Grey to express our frustration and disappointment at their decision to import Polish beef.”
“By doing so, they have completely disregarded local farmers as well as consumers.”
The team pointed out that the Polish beef industry is under watch from the European Commission after recent reports of poor hygiene practices.
“When consumers purchase polish beef, they’ve no idea of the traceability or quality of the product. The only thing they can be certain of is that it was born, reared and slaughtered in Poland.”
Reconsider sourcing policy
The UFU has urged Doherty & Gray to reconsider their sourcing policy immediately and is also appealing to all retailers and meat merchants to source product locally.
“We urge all local retailers and butchers to seriously consider their beef sourcing policies.”
“Now more than ever, there is a greater need to support your local beef farmers who are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19.”
“Yet, they continue to work endlessly, producing high-quality food for the nation and ensuring it gets moved off-farm so that it can reach consumers.”
The UFU said the agriculture sector is facing these turbulent times, together, therefore, we must work in unity.
“Our farmers are doing their best to provide food at this difficult time and they deserve respect for this, not to be undermined by cheap imports.”
The organisation is asking consumers to support those shops and butchers selling local farm quality assured meat products.
“We can’t have the situation where processors are importing beef, damaging our local food security at a time when we farmers are needed to feed our nation and we take pride in doing so.
“We hope that when normality resumes processors, consumers and those in the Northern Ireland foodservice sector, will purchase local Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured produce,” the UFU presidential team concluded.