Morrisons' backing for British produce praised

Retailer Morrisons' "clear and unambiguous" country of origin labelling along with its support for British producers has been praised by farming minister Jane Kennedy.

Speaking as she opened the retailer's new multi-million pound processing operation in Spalding, Lincolnshire, she said: "It's important that the meat processing sector does what it can to support the British production sector. I'm particularly impressed that Morrisons only sells 100% British fresh meat.

Accurate labelling was vital in the food sector, she said. "Everybody in the food supply chain has an important role in providing clear labelling, so consumers can make clear choices. I would commend Morrisons' labelling - it's clear and unambiguous."

The new 164,000ft2 abattoir is operated by Woodhead Bros, a wholly owned subsidiary of Morrisons, and produces 1,200t of beef and pork products a year. The site will process around 40% of the fresh beef and pork on sale in Morrisons' stores in the UK and also features its own bacon curing operation, producing around 150t of bacon a week.

Marc Bolland, chief executive of Morrisons, said: "The official opening of Spalding reinforces our continued commitment to the British farming industry. We are driving forward quality and efficiency which will enable us to help secure the long-term viability of British farming."

The new plant brings the number of operations under the Woodhead Bros banner to three.

two other plants at Colne, in Lancashire, and Turriff, in Scotland.