31 July 1998

MLCasks for back-up too…

THE Meat and Livestock Commissions pig strategy council has written to supermarkets, caterers and manufacturers calling for greater support for the beleaguered British pig industry.

The letter was written after the council, an industry-wide body, agreed that urgent action was needed to save the countrys pig farmers from bankruptcy.

Strategy council chairman James Wyllie said the pig industry in Britain had worked extremely hard and made investments to ensure its quality and welfare standards were second to none.

Meanwhile, junior farm minister Elliot Morley has pledged to work to raise EU minimum welfare requirements for pigs but says he cannot ban pork, bacon or other animal imports on the basis that they have been produced under lower welfare standards.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question from David Davis (Con. Haltemprice and Howden), Mr Morley said he could not ban imports because of single market rules.

It was important for retailers, however, wherever practical, to reassure their customers by applying high welfare standards to their purchases, regardless of origin.

But the largest retailers, have defended their buying policies.

A spokeswoman for Sainsburys said the company had two priorities – to offer choice and quality.

Currently, Sainsburys sources 100% of its pork and about 50% of its bacon from the UK, but it intends to increase that volume in the future.

Safeway claimed to source 100% of its pork products and loose bacon, sold in the delicatessen counters, from UK.

Tesco said that 100% of its fresh pork was sourced from UK farms and 60% of its own label bacon was UK produced.

Of the three giants, only Tesco mentioned welfare as part of its buying policy, repeating its aim to apply stall and tether free standards equally to home-produced and imported products.