Supermarkets ‘breaking the back’ of UK pig industry

The National Pig Association is voicing concern over the power that major retailers have in the market place and the damage being caused to the British pig industry.

Stewart Houston, Executive Director of the NPA, has claimed that widespread use by retailers of tertiary branding using flags of convenience to keep farm products on the shelves “will break the creaking back of the British pig industry”.

Confusion over labelling linked to a rise in imported pigmeat has also been identified by the Food Standards Agency.

The results of a Food Standards Agency survey conducted early last year covered 358 food products purchased from more than 60 UK supermarkets and convenience stores. 

Although 94% of unprocessed meat such as fresh pork gave country of origin information, only 19% of processed meat products included similar country of origin details.

The NPA claim that this has led to low welfare foreign pork being misleadingly labelled as a high welfare British product.

The results of the NPA PorkWatch survey also claim that the use of tertiary brand labels is responsible for the decline in British pigmeat on retailer’s shelves.

Under EU rules the country of origin is where the processing takes place.  This allows “Wiltshire ham” to be made from imported gammons.

The NPA claim this misleads shoppers into believing they are supporting the British product.

The PorkWatch survey indicated that only 67% of fresh pork in Asda was British compared with 89% at Tesco and a remarkable 100% at Waitrose and Budgens.

British ham and bacon now only accounts for between 30–40% in most major supermarkets with a rising volume of imports filling the gap.