By Peter Crichton

MAJOR retailers were once again under the spotlight when pig producers discovered to their dismay that a high proportion of pigmeat is still sourced from imports.

Waitrose has probably come out on top as far as UK producers are concerned, and states that only 20% of its bacon is imported. All of this is guaranteed stall-and-tether- as well as meat and bonemeal-free.

Somerfield, however, says its own-label bacon and ham will be British farm-assured by the end of the year, but that suppliers of branded products have been “made aware of Somerfields preference for far- assured products”.

ASDA says that Dutch suppliers will meet the proposed new EU standards by 1999, and that over 50% of its Danish suppliers are now matching it.

CWS reports that the vast majority of its chilled bacon will be stall-and-tether-free. The retailer also stated that is was reviewing how and when it could use stall-and-tether-free chilled and frozen products.

Sainsburys and Tesco confirm that 60% of their bacon is UK supplied and Tesco has added a ban on castration, which should in theory cut out many imports.

But with the wide range of differing and selective assurances given by these retailers, many UK producers are calling for an industry-wide standard.

This would require all retailers to confirm that they will only stock imported pigmeat, including bacon and processed products, that match all the UK welfare standards from 1 January, 1999.

Although the British Retail Council was responsible for asking its members if they planned to stop selling branded products that did not meet all UK standards, the reply received was that “this commitment can only be sought from the manufacturers of the branded products in question.”

The members also added that they did not intend to stop selling these products as long as there was consumer demand.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry