1 June 2000
Butchers slam pigmeat campaign

UK butchers have attacked the controversial advertising campaign promoting British quality assured pork because they say it discriminates against them.

The National Federation of Meat & Food Traders, which represents thousands of independent retail butchers, fears that the campaigns message that any meat that does not carry the mark could sideline them.

An estimated 15% of British wholesalers do not comply with the Meat and Livestock Commissions assurance scheme. Most of these are small operations that supply independent butchers, which, according to the NFMFT, account for 20% of all UK pigmeat sales.

“Many of the small wholesalers chose not to be in the scheme because of the costs associated with it. But if consumers get the message that they should only look for the mark, it threatens these wholesalers and the butchers they supply,” said NFMFT spokesman Graham Bidston.

The two adverts have been used to launch the 4.6m Meat and Livestock Commission advertising campaign. They emphasise that only by buying pigmeat carrying the mark can consumers be sure of meat from pigs not fed meat and bonemeal and not from sows reared in confined housing.

But Mr Bidston points out British pigs that do not carry the mark automatically comply with these standards as they are laid down by the law.

“All butchers should therefore be able to rely on supplies being of an equivalent standard to that produced under the British Quality Assured Pork scheme,” he said.

He said the solution for butchers is not as simple as just changing their supplier to someone who is in the scheme.

“Butchers have built up their relationships with local suppliers over many years. We do not want to see small butchers, wholesalers and farmers affected by the advertising campaign.”

This criticism adds to the onslaught being waged against the campaign. Supermarkets and processors have complained that the adverts could affect consumption of all pork, while the Dutch and Danish pig industries have described them as “xenophobic and inflammatory”.