NFU calls for transparency in wake of horsemeat fiasco

British farmers have been left "furious" by the discovery of horsemeat in beef products, the president of the National Farmers’ Union said.

Speaking at the NFU’s annual conference, Peter Kendall said: "I know I speak for all farmers when I say that I am furious about what has happened."

He said British farmers invested a lot of time, effort and "heartache" to produce high-quality beef and that needed to be supported by the retailers. "We need supermarkets to stop scouring the world for the cheapest products they can find and start sourcing high-quality, traceable product from farmers at home."

He said there was a real need for supply chains to be shortened, he told delegates to the event in Birmingham today. "We’ve learnt it’s nonsense when retailers claim they can sell eight beef burgers for a pound and maintain complete transparency about what’s in their products and where it comes from. We need shorter supply chains, which source from British farmers and growers. I mean as simple as possible: farmer, processor, shop. We must make that our collective ambition."

He said that the longer and more complex the supply chain, the more open it was to negligence if not fraud and criminal activity.

There needed to be greater transparency, he said, highlighting the "Helmsley" range in Morrisons as an example of foreign products being made to sound English. "Helmsley, a familiar name that sounds very like a traditional market town in Yorkshire and conjures up all the positives that go with that, but the reality is that product sourced outside the UK, and to less exacting standards, is being sold under that label."

Kendall also called on consumers to buy more British, and urged them to start by looking for the Red Tractor logo and to demand more answers from the people they buy food from.