September 22, 2021
Campaign promoting Australian beef at UK restaurants slammed
A social media campaign promoting Australian beef at a UK chain of steakhouse restaurants has been criticised as 'incredibly crass' by the National Beef Association (NBA).
In an open letter to the chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers PLC, Phil Urban, NBA questioned the logic of the current promotion of a 50-day dry aged grass-fed Australian Sirloin 12oz steak in the company's Miller & Carter steakhouse chain "at a time when climate change and environmental responsibility is at the top of our agenda."
The Miller & Carter chain has since reaffirmed its commitment to UK and Irish farmers but added that it wanted customers to experience new cuts of meat from other parts of the world.
The letter, written by NBA chief executive officer Neil Shand, recognised the difficulties the hospitality industry has faced during the ongoing pandemic, but questioned the decision to promote beef from the other side of the globe, asking the company not to "gamble with the future of farming in the UK."
He wrote: "As a British company which has its 120-year-old foundations in the heart of our country, and at a time when climate change and environmental responsibility is at the top of the agenda, it seems incredibly crass – and more than a little short-sighted – to be promoting beef that has been flown half way round the planet."
Shand called for the British company to support their own producers, pointing out the efforts of British farmers to keep the nation fed during the pandemic.
"We fully appreciate that the ongoing pandemic has been nothing short of brutal for your industry. Our members, the UK beef industry, have worked as tirelessly as ever through the pandemic, stepping up to ensure a stable supply of food is available to our consumers. There have been no grants and no furlough for farmers; our taxes are being paid in full to help Government pay the furlough costs of your staff. In return, at the first available opportunity, you choose to buy your beef from Australia."
Shand also questioned the traceability of the Australian beef the restaurant chain was promoting and whether it could guarantee it was free from growth promoters.
"UK beef is produced to the highest health and welfare standards and is fully traceable to the farm from which it came," Shand said. "Can you guarantee to us that that the product you are importing is fully traceable? The use of growth promoters continues to be openly acceptable in Australian beef production, a practice which is banned in the UK; this is an area of concern. Can you guarantee that the product you are advertising is free from growth promoters?"
A spokesperson for Miller & Carter reassured concerned farmers, saying: "The Australian Sirloin has been introduced, for a limited time only, as part of our Master Butcher’s Cut range, which allows our guests to experience new steak cuts of new sizes or that originate from different parts of the world.
"Please rest assured though that we remain committed to supporting British and Irish farmers, which is where we source most of our steak cuts that continue to make up the majority of our menu."
- The Scottish Farmer