The National Beef Association has accused supermarkets of “bullying” food producers into a low price culture and creating the conditions which have brought about the horse meat scandal.

“They (supermarkets) adopted a bullying culture aimed exclusively at securing as much farm food as possible, for as little cost as possible, and the result is tortured supply chains that add so much unnecessary cost that short cuts on quality and traceability, and even cheating by some suppliers, was inevitable,”  said NBA national director, Chris Mallon.

“One of the most immediate moves should be the elimination of profit taking, middlemen, like processors who add avoidable cost to the supply system at the same time, as has been made obvious over the last month, they reduce the control retailers should have over the origin and provenance of their purchases.” “In the red meat sector more supermarkets must adopt the Morrison’s model and bring processing in-house or else organise deliveries from an exclusive, single site, supplier like Waitrose.”

Mr Mallon said retailers also need to show the British public that the continued racking down of food prices will ultimately make it more difficult to secure enough good food from trusted sources.

“The on-going horse meat scandal has demonstrated conclusively that consumers only get what they pay for and that continued price reduction will jeopardise food quality,” said Mr Mallon.
“Concentrating on cheapness is myopic. In real terms British consumers are currently paying 20 per cent less for food than they did a decade ago. This trend cannot possibly continue because the world population is exploding and it is already clear world food production cannot keep up with it.

“The global food market is changing fast and supermarkets now need, for their own long term survival as well as the long term wellbeing of their customers, to persuade consumers they can no longer spend just ten per cent of their disposable income on food and be prepared, before long, to spend 15 per cent instead.”