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Co-op switches its focus to Herefords
3:14pm Friday 15th March 2013 in Farming
A MAJOR retailer is switching its entire premier beef range over to Hereford cattle.
The move will see a dedicated Hereford producer group established who will receive premium prices.
The native breed will supply The Co-operative Group’s "Truly Irresistible"
beef range in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – Aberdeen Angus will continue to supply the brand in its native Scotland.
MattHood,TheCo-operatives head of chilled, said: "Hereford cattle are part of Britain’s history.
"Hereford beef takes us back to meat with the flavours our grandparents knew, it will give our customers the top quality they want today.
"This producer group scheme for premium beef is a great step forward. It will enable us to offer our customers a consistent, qualityproductby working closely with our partner farmers to ensure even more robust supply chains and traceability."
Dunbia, its processor, will establish the dedicated producer group which will be open to all farmers who meet the criteria.
The scheme needs farm assured cattle between 260kg and 380kg deadweight, classifying U, R or O in fat class 2 to 4.
Hereford beef will be sold in Co-operative food stores from April and Jim Dobson, Dunbia managing director, expects it will meet strong demand.
"We encourage farmers who meet the criteria to take part in the scheme," he said.
Richard Mann, Hereford Cattle Society chairman, said: "Hereford is one of Britain’s finest native breeds and we welcome this decisionbyTheCo-operative Group to champion our breed. Hereford cattle producenaturallymarbled beef, which is succulent and full of flavour.
“This scheme offers a joined up development approach and long-term commitment to the Hereford supply chain.”
The Hereford is one of the oldest native breeds and were a common sight more than 100 years ago.
The move is expected to see more herds established, giving a boost to Hereford numbers.
The Co-operative has almost 4,000 stores across the UK and all of its fresh beef, pork, chicken and turkey is 100pc British.
Mr Hood said: "Sourcing so much of our meat from UK farms means we can be sure that weareproviding our customers with the best quality available.
"We have complete traceability for every animal, so that we know precisely where it comes from, and how it has been reared and cared for.
"Returning to Hereford cattle will safeguard the heritage of this wonderful British breed for the future, whilst enabling us to provide our customers with outstanding, greattasting beef."