10 September 1998
Gummer hits out at supermarkets

By FW Staff

FORMER farm minister John Gummer has launched a scathing attack on the “unprincipled and insensitive” buying policies of some supermarket chains.

Mr Gummer, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, said the policies were forcing pig farmers out of business and supporting “cruel” production systems on the Continent.

His attack came as pig producers throughout East Anglia took their “buy British” campaign direct to consumers at the weekend.

Mr Gummer joined a group of local farmers outside the Somerfield supermarket at Saxmundham in his Suffolk Coastal constituency and identified pork products being sold which did not reveal their source of origin or carried “clever” labels which, he said, did not disclose the full truth.

The MP said he had been very alarmed to see the results of two surveys which suggested the Somerfield and some retailers had made little effort to support the UK ban on the intensive stall-and-tether system for pigs.

“In this rural area these unprincipled and insensitive buying policies are forcing local farmers out of business,” said Mr Gummer who is writing to the supermarket firm about his concerns.

A statement issued by Somerfield this week said its “own brand” pork and bacon suppliers had adopted higher welfare standards and feedstuffs were fully traceable.