19 May 2000

Controversial pigmeat advert gets go-ahead

By Alistair Driver

A CONTROVERSIAL advert highlighting the fact that foreign pig producers are allowed to feed their pigs on meat and bonemeal will appear in the press soon despite vehement opposition from supermarkets who fear it will hit sales.

But the British Pig Executive may decide to run a "watered down" version of the advert originally planned, BPEX producer member John Rowbottom told farmers weekly.

When the BPEX executive met on Tuesday, producer members voted in favour of the advert going ahead, while the processors and one retailer on the board voted against, he said. But the producers prevailed and the intention now is to run an advert early next week.

"We voted to proceed with the original advert, which is very provocative. But it was also agreed that an alternative, slightly watered down version should also be considered over the next few days," he said.

The decision about which one will appear will partly be based on the reaction of consumers to the BPEX advert that appeared last week highlighting the fact that the UK is the only country to have banned stall and tethers.

"If it is clear that people have been put off pigmeat by last weeks advert, then it is more likely that the watered-down version will be used. I hope the original one is used," he said.

The adverts have provoked a storm of protest from the Dutch and Danish pig industries. The UK supermarkets are also "livid", according to Mr Rowbottom, who suggested they put pressure on BPEXs processor representatives to oppose the second advert.

"Asda have been on the phone to the BPEX marketing department complaining that consumers will be put off all pigmeat – but what they are really worried about is consumers being put off foreign meat, which will make it more expensive for them!"

An Asda spokeswoman confirmed that the retailer has "expressed its concerns" about both adverts being used in the first part of BPEXs £4.6m campaign to promote British pigmeat.

"We are concerned that they will send out a confusing message to consumers about the way pigmeat is produced," she said. She emphasised that all the pigmeat sold by Asda, some of which is Dutch, is from pigs that are not reared in stall and tethers or fed on meat and bonemeal.

BPEX chief executive Mick Sloyan said there are risks attached to both adverts.

"But we are not interested in putting people off pigmeat. We want to highlight the benefits of meat sold under the Quality Standard," he said. &#42