Beef sales at Tesco recovered to pre-BSE crisis levels for the first time this week, with sales of mince up on last year.
Sales halved in March after the Government admitted a possible link between mad cow disease and its human equivalent CJD, but the retailer yesterday (Tuesday) reported a slow but steady recovery.
According to Tesco, sales of higher value cuts of joints and steaks picked up first, followed by mince and stewing steak.
Andrew Batty, Tesco meat trading director, says the chain only accepted the highest quality meat even before the crisis broke, but after March specifications were tightened.
A new “Producers Club” was launched to ensure only cattle of known origin entered the Tesco supply chain. Trials have been set up to tag cattle electronically, guaranteeing traceability for life.
Chris Lamb, marketing manager at the Meat & Livestock Commission, says: “For any industry to recover from such a body blow in that space of time is fantastic.”
The MLC has run an advertising campaign through BMP to promote beef and to highlight its Minced Beef Quality Mark, a guarantee adopted by retailers including Tesco. The MLC is currently pushing retailers and manufacturers such as Birds Eye to adopt its latest initiative – a quality mark for beefburgers in the shape of a rosette.