NFU Scotland has bought imported pork in supermarkets and challenged retailers to prove it is produced legally.
Much of mainland EU pork production now contravenes welfare standards and competes unfairly with UK pork, since the partial EU sow stall ban came into force on 1 January. The UK banned stalls 13 years ago and only four other member states are known to have met the deadline on the new requirements.
Major retailers have stated their intention not to stock imported pigmeat produced on non-compliant European farms and on Monday (21 January) NFU Scotland bought imported and UK pork products at Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s stores.
No imported pork, bacon or ham was found at the Marks & Spencer store visited by NFUS, but it returned to the stores selling imports this week, asking store managers to start an audit trail to trace products back to farms in their country of origin.
The union has asked supermarkets to report back with their findings next week.
“To their credit, major supermarkets have given UK pig farmers reassurances that where they choose to import pork, bacon or ham, they will only stock from European farms that comply with the new rules and that no illegally produced products would appear on shop shelves,” said pigs committee chairman Phil Sleigh.
“This is a chance for retailers to back up that reassurance with firm evidence by tracking imported products bought in individual stores all the way back to the farm of origin. If that were the case it would send out a very positive message and we think a week is a reasonable time to complete that investigation.
“Given last week’s revelations on traceability, providing an audit of the whole supply chain would show supermarkets to be delivering on their pledge and ensure that pig farmers – whether in Scotland or in Europe – are competing for shelf space in Scottish supermarkets on an equal footing.”