Managing director of Pittards, Leeds, Steve Johnson has attacked the UK’s Ministry of Defence for sourcing raw materials for army boots from Brazil instead of supporting the UK meat and livestock industry.

Both Pittards and Salz in the US were two MoD selected approved suppliers for the proposed new combat assault boot. However, as the product was on a two-year wear trial, a Brazilian supplier has been accused of copying the leather and winning the contract, leaving Pittards and Salz with no payback for their investments. Salz have since ceased trading.

‘We are already at a disadvantage to third world competition because we provide, rightly, decent pay and working conditions for our employees and meet the costs for all the very necessary environmental and health and safety requirements’, said Johnson, who fears a terminal loss of the required skills in the UK industry.

‘We are happy to continue to invest time in product improvement and innovation for the MoD, but there must be some commercial payback. We do currently supply one specialised leather in limited volumes, which we developed specifically for the MoD. Our assumption, sadly, is we will lose this once a low cost country has copied it.’

National Farmers’ Union president Ben Gill said: ‘This is absolutely disgusting and the MoD has a questionable role in this. For example, how did the Brazilians get hold of the information to meet the specifications?’