The Co-op will ratchet up its backing of all things British as General Election and Brexit fervour intensifies.

From May 2 the mutual has ditched Danish bacon and New Zealand lamb in favour of 100% fresh British product.

Its focus on home-produced fare coincides with a £10m campaign launched this week focusing on the benefit of sourcing from British local farmers.

Full-page ads are appearing in national newspapers and a television campaign will run later in the year.

The moves build on its earlier commitment to sell only British beef, chicken, ham, pork, sausages, duck and turkey and only use British meat in all own-label chilled ready meals, pies and sandwiches, with the exception of continental varieties in ready meals and sandwiches.

The Co-op said it would be the first national retailer to switch all such product that bears its name to British.

The decision comes against the backdrop of soaring meat imports, from £3bn in 1996 to £6.6bn last year, according to new research by the Co-op.

More than £5bn-worth of meat is shipped from the European Union. Asia and Oceania countries account for £804m and Latin America £345m.

Co-op retail chief executive Jo Whitfield said British consumers would be shocked to see how meat imports had grown while at the same time retailers “hang out the bunting and claim to back British farmers”.

Whitfield said only the Co-op offered 100% British fresh meat all year round, and not just in the meat cabinet but in its sandwiches, pies and ready meals.

“We can do this because we’re owned by members not shareholders and can invest long-term in what matters to communities, not what provides the fastest shareholder return,” she said.

Whitfield called on other retailers and food providers to do more to help British farmers.