19 May 2000
Pork ads may be watered down

By FWi staff

THE British Pig Executive is under pressure to tone down its controversial advertising campaign for pigmeat because of fears that it could reduce pork sales.

Another controversial advertisement highlighting the fact that pig producers overseas are allowed to feed pigs on animal remains could appear next week.

The advertisement under consideration shows a sow suckling her piglets with words to the effect: “Shes feeding them. Soon she could be fed to them.”

But the British Pig Executive (BPEX) may be forced to run a “watered-down” version of the advertisement, said BPEX producer member John Rowbottom.

Producer members of the BPEX executive voted in favour of the advert going ahead. But processors and one retailer on the board voted against the idea, he said.

A final decision about whether to tone down the advertisement would be based on consumer reaction to a similar advert last week, Mr Rowbottom added.

That advertisement highlighted the fact that imported pigmeat may come from pigs reared in stall-and-tether systems – a practice banned in the UK.

“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,” said Mr Rowbottom.

The adverts have provoked a storm of protest from British supermarkets as well as Dutch and Danish farmers who fear pork sales will fall across the board.

A spokeswoman for Asda said the supermarket was concerned at the style of advertising being used in the 4.6 million BPEX 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.

All pigmeat sold by Asda, some of which is Dutch, is from pigs that are not reared in stalls and tethers or fed on animal remains, said the spokeswoman.

Mick Sloyan, BPEX chief executive, acknowledged that there were risks attached to running both advertisements in the national press.

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