SECRET shoppers have found that 94% of the beef available across the Scottish supermarkets they visited was labelled either as British or Scottish, with 61% of packs labelled explicitly as Scottish or Scotch Beef PGI.

Over a two week period, NFU Scotland staff and members have been in some of the country's most popular supermarket chains to get a snapshot of the amount of home-produced beef available over imported beef.

Almost 96% of packs counted in Aldi stores were explicitly Scottish while 88% of packs in Lidl stores were labelled as Scottish or Scotch.

In the stores of the nation’s biggest retailer, Tesco, 90% of beef counted was labelled as Scotch, apparently demonstrating strong support from the country’s largest food retailer.

However, volumes of non-UK beef in both Sainsbury’s and ASDA were significant, with almost one in every 10 packs counted coming from outside the UK. Members also reported 'co-mingling' of home-produced and imported beef in these retailers, making it harder for shoppers to identify and buy home-produced beef.

Commenting on the shelf watch results NFUS livestock committee chairman, Jimmy Ireland, a beef farmer near Darvel, said: “Today’s results are really encouraging for Scottish farmers and crofters. In Scotland we are gifted with heavy rainfall and great grass growth, allowing us to sustainably produce top quality beef while supporting a healthy environment.

“Shoppers should be confident that the majority of their local retailers stock Scottish beef in good quantities, meaning that they can rest assured that they are supporting their local farmers when they are making their home-made steak pies, beef curries and burgers. It is National Butchers Week this week so shoppers are reminded they can also find Scottish beef readily available at their local butchers and farm shops, which are always strong supporters of domestic food production.

“Morrisons, Co-op, Aldi, Marks and Spencer, Lidl and Waitrose must be recognised for stocking 100% home-produced beef while Tesco is knocking on the door at 99% home-produced beef, with 90% labelled as Scotch. We do however need to see ASDA and Sainsbury’s improve their performance by increasing domestic sourcing."