By Peter Crichton
CASH strapped UK pig producers had a few hours of temporary delight following the dramatic press release issued by the British Retail Consortium on 3 November.
After months of intensive lobbying, the BRC announced that as from 1 January none of their members would sell any pigmeat in their outlets that came from stall-and-tether systems or had been fed meat and bonemeal.
The BRC is a powerful consortium claiming to represent the bulk of the UK retail sector including the major supermarkets. Their slogan is “The voice of British retailing.”
Stewart Houston, chairman of the British Pig Industry Support Group, was reported to be delighted at this news. It would have closed the retail door to imports from most of Europe and led to a surge in demand for the home-produced product.
The UK is one of the few major pig production centres that could comply with this requirement.
The initial BRC announcement had backtracked on this pledge, to the dismay of the whole of the industry and presumably Nick Brown the new Agriculture Minister, who has been pressing hard for a commitment of this type.
A BRC spokesperson said there had “been a typing error,” in the press release and the new agreement would only apply to fresh pigmeat. This leaves their members free to buy bacon, gammons and other cured or further processed pigmeat from importers.
As most fresh pigmeat sold is already British pork,m this will do little to help UK producers.