9 August 2002

Sainsbury gives home pork shot in the arm

THE National Pig Association says a new initiative by Sainsbury to promote British pork is a welcome first step by the supermarket sector to assist the struggling UK pig industry.

Measures agreed at a recent meeting with the retailer include creating special British bacon displays at its stores and a joint consumer research programme with the Meat and Livestock Commission to increase demand for pork products.

NPA regional director Ian Campbell admits that many promising discussions with stores in the past have often failed to translate to the bottom line, but he is hopeful this time. "There is an element of window dressing, but it was an encouraging meeting. We desperately need the retailers to stay on board."

Mr Campbell believes the main emphasis should be on fresh pork sales and the premium quality market. "The UK is outgunned in the commodity products market (including bacon) and we need to drive some margin into the product."

Safeway communications director Kevin Hawkins says the company would also be happy to talk to the NPA about assisting the industry, but reckons it would be better if all retailers were to have a co-ordinated response rather than acting on their own. "We all need to be paddling in the same direction."

The move comes at a time when the decline in UK pig prices has accelerated. Spot baconers have slipped below 90p/kg for the first time this year, says independent consultant Peter Crichton.

And the UK AESA fell over 2p/kg on the week, to 93.59p/kg, compared with 106p/kg a year ago. "Returns are now 20p/kg below those achieved in mid-May, equating to £14 less per bacon pig," says Mr Crichton.

Trade sources blame large-scale retailers and processors for buying cheap imported pigmeat on a four-week forward basis, he adds. &#42