THE National Beef Association (NBA) has repeated its call for a rapid change in the way supermarkets approach food buying and pricing policies.

It said the British public and the supermarkets themselves were paying the price for the “short-sighted, price-led, purchasing tactics deployed by frontline retailers and buyers for decades.”

Chris Mallon, NBA national director, said: “They adopted a bullying culture aimed exclusively at securing as much farm food as possible, for as little cost as possible.

“The result is tortured supply chains that add so much unnecessary cost that shortcuts on quality and traceability, and even cheating by some suppliers, was inevitable.”

Such tactics must be stopped immediately if consumer confidence was to be restored.

“The multiples must start by focusing as much buying as possible on the high quality, high provenance, food that is grown on nearby British farms.

“If they do this they can secure both current and future supplies of essential products as long as they also make sure that all participants in the supply chain adequately cover their costs.”

Mr Mallon said middlemen like processors should be removed immediately – they reduce the control retailers have over the origin and provenance of their purchases.

He said: “More supermarkets should adopt the Morrisons model and bring processing in-house or organise deliveries from an exclusive, single site supplier, like Waitrose.”

“The horse meat scandal was conclusive evidence that consumers only get what they pay for, continued price reduction would jeopardise food quality.”

Mr Mallon said in real terms British consumers were paying 20 per cent less for food than they did a decade ago – it could not continue.

Supermarkets must 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.