UK - European Union mandatory origin labelling rules for fresh and frozen meat, which came into force in April, have sparked a wave of interest among foodservice companies in sourcing pork from British farms, according to the National Pig Association.
"We are seeing a surge in enquiries from restaurants, pubs, hotels, and even fast-food caterers, and we hope to be able to announce in due course that some have decided to go the McDonald's route and source all-British pork and pork products," said chief executive Dr Zoe Davies.
"Some are interested in sourcing premium free-range pork and some want competitively-priced British commercial pork, but the common factor is an interest in being able to guarantee British provenance."
NPA says its conversations with foodservice companies indicate many have been surprised to find the pork they have been selling over the years has been imported from the continent.
This has led them also to question the provenance of the ham, bacon and sausages they serve, even though these are not yet covered by mandatory origin labelling.
The new European labelling rule requires all packaging, including wholesale pork destined for foodservice outlets, to state the country or countries where the animals were reared and slaughtered.
And it requires the origin statement to be backed by a paper trail back to the farm of origin, so the origin claim can be checked by regulators.
Whilst helping foodservice companies source pork and pork products to suit their individual price points, NPA is stressing the importance of mentioning British provenance on wall and table menus.
“If you sell British pork then it makes good business sense to advertise the fact,” said NPA chairman Richard Lister, a pig producer in North Yorkshire.
“We know it pays dividends because a recent YouGov survey shows that when it comes to customer trust, foodservice outlets have a long way to go before they catch up with retailers.
“British pig farmers have a reputation for exemplary animal welfare, and the eating quality of our product is superior too because unlike the continental europig industry which produces large quantities of carbon-copy pork, British pig farmers satisfy consumer desire for different production systems, such as outdoor free-range, outdoor-bred, and outdoor-reared pork.”
The YouGov poll found that nearly 70 per cent of shoppers trust the meat they buy in supermarkets either a lot or a fair amount. This compares with only 58 per cent trusting the meat they are served in restaurants and 17 per cent in fast-food outlets.
The survey also found 81 per cent of shoppers who buy meat want supermarkets to continue stocking a high level of British meat to maintain consumer confidence, 65 per cent believe importing more European pork not produced under food assurance schemes like Red Tractor could increase risk of another Horsegate-style scandal, and only 19 per cent want more cheaper European pork imports to keep down prices.
ThePigSite News Desk