LONDON – The Co-op, a leading consumer co-operative that operates 3,750 retail outlets throughout the United Kingdom, announced plans to use bacon produced by British farmers in its store-brand bacon. The commitment will make the Co-op the only major food retailer in the United Kingdom to stock 100 percent store-brand meat and poultry products — including bacon.

“We are a major supporter of British farming,” Steve Murrells, chief executive of The Co-op said in a statement. “This move is a first for a major food retailer and will see us invest millions more into sourcing home produced goods.

“It’s an exciting time at the Co-op and our growing confidence is shown by our investment in UK farming as we do business a better way to meet consumer demand.”

The Co-op pledged to invest a minimum of £1.5 billion between 2015-2018 sourcing 100 percent fresh British bacon, lamb, beef, chicken, ham, pork, sausages and turkey. The retailer already uses only British meat in all chilled ready meals, pies and sandwiches except when using a “continental” meat such as chorizo.

“This is an important step for the Co-op and is a resounding endorsement for British farming,” said Zoe Davis, chief executive of National Pig Association, a UK trade group. “It’s important retailers do more than rollout the bunting in their aisles to support UK farming and switching to home-produced bacon is the strongest move a retailer can make.”

The in-store switch to 100 percent British bacon and lamb will start May 1, 2017.