Gammon joints in Morrisons supermarket© Rex Shutterstock

The National Pig Association (NPA) has slammed retailers for “letting consumers down” by offering an abysmal selection of British gammons this Christmas.

It follows findings from the association’s gammon survey that revealed the Big Four supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – were stocking their shelves predominantly with imports.

Over the past four weeks, the NPA surveyed 150 supermarkets in 68 towns and cities, checking gammon displays.

The survey found that:

  • The worst performer was Asda, with British product making up only 8% of its gammon shelf-facings.
  • British gammon facings were 14% at Morrisons and 19% in Sainsbury’s.
  • Tesco shelves were stocked with 29% British gammon
  • Shortly before NPA members started conducting their surveys, the industry’s professional PorkWatch surveyors had noted 39% British gammon facings in Aldi and 17% in Lidl.
  • Lidl improved its display of British gammon to 66% during December and Aldi introduced its Christmas offer of one imported line and one premium British line, but in some stores the imported product was given more than one shelf-facing.     
  • Waitrose, M&S and the Co-op all sold 100% British gammons and at competitive prices.

Asda responds

A spokesperson from Asda, which was the worst-performing retailer in terms of proportion of British gammon its stocked, said: “At Asda we’re committed to supporting British pig farmers through our work with suppliers such as Cranswick Country Foods and our PorkLink scheme, which as part of our FarmLink programme aims to create a sustainable agricultural sector for the future.

“This year our British gammon makes up 25% of our festive range and includes two new extra special lines for 2015, Decorated Festive Gammon and DryCure Gammon, which promote the quality of the product on offer and provides more choice for our customers.”

NPA calls for all retailers to address the imbalance 

NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies called for worst-performing supermarkets to readdress the balance.

She said: “Indeed, we urge them to redress the balance immediately, by making a special effort to support British producers across all pork categories as we enter the difficult new year period, when the market is going to be particularly challenging.

See more: Tesco faces farmer protests this Christmas over NZ lamb imports

“Nobody is calling for all British supermarkets to stock 100% British gammons, but there are plenty of British pork legs available and we hope the poor performers will be much more supportive in future.”

Although she recognised the majority have continued to show strong support for British pork in other categories, particularly fresh pork. 

A year ago the industry’s Standard Pig Price stood at 145p/kg and today it is down to below 126p/kg, and still falling.

Taking all costs into consideration, AHDB sees current break-even price for producers at 139p/kg.

Cheap imports proving attractive to retailers

NPA chairman Richard Lister, a pig producer in North Yorkshire, urged supermarkets to back British producers at this difficult time, adding: “We recognise there is a glut of pork in the European Union at present, and the strength of sterling makes it available over here at an attractive price.

“But if retailers want the convenience of a thriving British pig sector on their doorstep, producing reliable supplies 52 weeks of the year of a quality-assured, traceable, high-welfare product, then it’s essential they make a special effort to support British pig farmers, particularly at present when an increasing number are selling pigs at a loss.”