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Major retailers reduce percentage of products with QA mark

May 27, 2016 | ICSA in the Media | 0 comments

FARMERS JOURNAL – 28 April 2016

  • Labelling on meat products, Bord Bia Quality Assurance.
    Labelling on meat products, Bord Bia Quality Assurance.

In all, 68% of facings in the major retailers displayed the Bord Bia quality assurance mark in the first quarter in 2016, down from 70% in the last quarter of 2015. 

The three main retailers, with a combined market share of 75%, have all shown a lower percentage of product facings displaying the Bord Bia quality assurance mark in the first quarter of 2016 compared with Q4 2015.

The biggest drop has been SuperValu, which displayed the quality mark on 72% of facings in Q4 last year, but just 65% in the first quarter of 2016. German discounters Aldi and Lidl each had a slight increase. At the same time, grocery sales in the first quarter of 2016 increased by 3.64%, according to the Grant Thornton REI Irish Retail Industry Sales Review.

These results are potentially very frustrating for farmers who deal with Bord Bia inspections every 18 months.

“Farmers will want to know what it is all for if supermarkets are opting for more non-QAS products on the shelves,” said ICSA beef chair Edmond Phelan. “The stress and hassle associated with QAS audits is one thing; worse still is the fact that meat factories are using quality assurance as a stick to beat farmers with on price. If the supermarkets don’t care, why should farmers put up with this?”

The quality assurance scheme is recognised internationally and these figures represent just what is available to Irish consumers.

“SuperValu is the number one supporter of the Irish agri-food sector, sourcing from Irish suppliers whenever possible,” a spokesperson for the retailer said. “75% of everything on SuperValu’s shelves is sourced or produced in Ireland and we purchase over €2bn worth of goods from over 2,000 Irish suppliers, helping to sustain 30,000 jobs in the Irish economy.”

Tesco Ireland responded to the figures by saying that it is “proud that 100% of the Tesco brand fresh beef, lamb, pork, bacon and ham joints, poultry and breakfast meats sold in our stores are sourced in the Republic of Ireland, and where possible the Bord Bia quality assurance mark is displayed on pack”.

The scheme is provided for beef, lamb, dairy, pigmeat, poultry, eggs and horticulture. As expected, most of these performed well, with 98% of lamb facings displaying the quality mark.

Beef and pork have the second highest proportion of produce with the quality mark. However, while 95% displayed in Q4 2015 had the quality mark, that slipped back to 94% in 2016 for both beef and pork.

More notably, chicken has the highest number of total facings, but it decreased from 79% to 74%. There are a similar number of rasher product facings as there are beef facings that display the quality mark. However, they represent just 74% of the total number of rasher facings available, compared with 94% of beef products.

Processed pigmeat products do not perform as well, with just half of the cooked ham facings with the quality assurance mark and 18% of sausages, down from 24%.

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