Upmarket retailer Waitrose has revealed plans to build its own frozen meat factory, in a bid to help restore consumer confidence in meat products.
The new factory – to be based at Dovecote Park in Yorkshire – will become operational in the next three months, said the retailer.
Mark Price, Waitrose’s md, said: “Our customers rightly expect the highest standards of product quality and integrity from us and we won’t let anything stand in the way of our delivering this.
“Dovecote Park is a dedicated supplier to Waitrose. They share our values and our commitment to British farming, so extending our joint activities into a range of frozen meat products is a tremendously positive move.”
The Yorkshire site has exclusively supplied the retailer with fresh beef products including fresh burgers, steaks and joints since 1997.
Fresh beef products
“Dovecote Park is sourced from a known and trusted group of British farmers – none of the beef is bought on the open market,” said the retailer.
Following the horsemeat scandal, Waitrose said it had taken “the precautionary action of removing two frozen meat products, beefburgers and meatballs – not produced by Dovecote Park – from its branches”.
The frozen beef burgers were put back on sale after tests confirmed that the meat in the product was 100% beef.
Pork in some of the beef meatballs
But one test revealed pork in some of the meatballs, leading the retailer to withdraw its Essential British Frozen Beef Meatballs.
Waitrose confirmed that neither its frozen beefburgers nor frozen meatballs tested positive for horsemeat.
The retailer confirmed that its Essential frozen British beef meatballs were produced at the ABP Foods’ Freshlink factory in Glasgow.
An ABP spokeswoman said: "Freshlink has carried out over 450 DNA tests during the last two-and-a-half years. All our test results have been confirmed as negative for non-declared species."
Waitrose has 290 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands.
Meanwhile, Tesco has also withdrawn its Everyday Value spaghetti Bolognese, after samples were found to contain 60% horse meat.
Environment secretary Owen Paterson is meeting other EU farm ministers today in a bid to restore flagging consumer confidence in meat.
A recent survey of 6,000 shoppers by GMI on behalf of Kantar revealed recently that more than a third (36%) said they were less likely to buy processed meat products after the horse meat crisis.