30 May 2000
Dutch, Danes play down pig ads

By Alistair Driver

DUTCH and Danish farmers have played down the prospect of immediate reprisals against a controversial advertising campaign for British pigmeat.

Advertisements for British pigmeat highlighting that overseas producers may feed animal remains to pigs appeared in newspapers on Tuesday (30 May)

The advertisements feature a sow suckling her piglets and carries the caption: “After shes fed them, she could be fed to them.”

British supermarkets and processors have voiced fears that the campaign could drive down sales of all pigmeat, regardless of where it comes from.

But Dutch and Danish producers that said they would adopt a “wait and see” approach before deciding whether to take action against the advertisment.

Robert Smith, managing director of the Dutch Meat Board, described the latest advert as “xenophobic, irresponsible, inaccurate and inflammatory”.

But he played down claims made in The Times newspaper implying the Dutch Meat Board is about to lodge a complaint with the European Union.

Dutch farmers were not in favour of taking legal action, although they were still considering their response, Mr Smith told Farmers Weekly.

Legal action could be counter-productive, he added, claiming that Dutch pig producers were reluctant to be drawn into a slanging match.

Mr Smith said: “There is a lot that we could say to promote the special attributes of Dutch production, including housing and feed.

“But that would be getting into a situation of saying my dad is bigger than your dad, which does nobody any good.”

John Howard of the Danish Meat and Bacon Council said the Danish industry is reluctant to get drawn into a public argument with the British industry.

Although it is legal in Denmark to feed animal remains to pigs, the reaction of Danish farmers would depend on how the adverts are received in the media.