Blog: Putting Tesco on the spot

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Ruth Mason_170_255NFU President Meurig Raymond publicly questioned Tesco on their commitments to British farming at their Annual General Meeting. The NFU’s chief food chain adviser, Ruth Mason, who attended the shareholder meeting, explains why the unusual move was taken.

She writes:

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This focused on structural and technical changes within the supply chain, such as testing and auditing. In addition, Dave Lewis outlined Tesco’s sourcing policies on all eggs, milk, sausages, fresh chicken, carrots and onions -which are all British - and fresh and frozen beef, which is British and Irish.

The NFU is pleased that Mr Lewis was able to confirm commitments made by Tesco more than two years ago. For those who can’t remember, then Tesco CEO Philip Clarke, promised to improve relationships with suppliers, shorten supply chains and improve trust throughout.

Mr Raymond has now challenged Tesco to “give these commitments teeth”.

There has been a significant amount of media interest in Mr Lewis’s response, with articles being featured on Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly, Farming Today, The Guardian and The Grocer to name just a few.

Across the day there were a range of questions on the lack of dividends to shareholders, concerns that Tesco now had the highest milk prices in the market (following Sainsbury’s move to 75p for two pints), as well as Tesco’s commitment to implement the living wage.

These questions show the diversity of shareholder concerns and the challenge Tesco has in balancing these while trying to rebuild trust in the brand.