Tesco has hired a senior executive from the National Farmers’ Union as it attempts to restore public trust following the horsemeat scandal.
Britain’s largest retailer has appointed Tom Hind, corporate affairs director at the NFU, as director of agriculture in a new role designed to improve Tesco’s relationship with farmers and suppliers.
Tesco chief executive, Philip Clarke, spoke at the NFU’s annual conference this February saying that the company would make a “sincere commitment to source more of our meat closer to home.” He added: “Where it is reasonable to do so, we will source from British producers.”
Tesco saw sales slide in nine of its 11 global markets following the horsemeat scandal when horse DNA was found in four Tesco products including beef burgers. Other food retailers implicated in the scandal included Lidl, Aldi and Iceland.
Kevin Grace, Tesco commercial director, said: “Tom is a respected figure in British agriculture and will bring with him a huge amount of hands-on farming experience. His relationship with farmers will ensure their views continue to be heard throughout Tesco.”
Hind is sure to have a job on his hands after market research provider Mintel found that only 42% of consumers, taken from a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults, believe the food industry can react to major food scares effectively.Less than a quarter believe that different elements of the supply chain work effectively together.
Alex Beckett, senior food analyst at Mintel, said: “That food should not be harmful should be one of the most basic of consumer expectations, yet only half of adults feel the UK food industry provides food that is safe to eat, signalling a widespread breakdown of trust in the agri-food chain, and suggesting the need for more active communications and greater transparency towards consumers.”