Morrisons crash bacon market

by 5m Editor
26 July 2004, at 12:00am

UK - Morrisons crashed the bacon price this week - and with it the fragile confidence of Britain's slowly recovering pig industry.


National Pig Association

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & Whitehall, and with processors, supermarkets & caterers - fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

They have created a differential of over 31 a pack between them and their high street competitors with a bargain-basement tertiary brand - "Farm Fayre" - using Danish product.

NPA contends the Danish meat comes from farms with production systems that would be illegal in this country, despite the fact that over 90 percent of British consumers say they want imported meat to come from farms that do meet British production standards.

"The Farm Fayre brand is clearly a flag of convenience," said NPA chairman Stewart Houston tonight. "Customers may think they are buying British bacon but the true story is very different."

Morrisons' action in driving down bacon prices by selling product of sub British farm production standards will cause difficulties to those leading retailers who do conscientiously ensure that the pork and pork products they sell comply with British standards.

"Morrisons promised me they would help the British pig industry's recovery by not turning pork and pork products into a price battleground," said Stewart Houston. "I have seen little evidence of that promise in their stores this week."

Morrisons are notable for being the only leading retailer not to respond yet to NPA's government-supported Best Practice Guidelines for Retailers and Foodservice, which were launched last week.

The guidelines ask retailers to ensure all their pork, bacon, ham and sausages meet the legal standards for pig production in the Britain, are transparently and independently audited to prove this is the case, and are clearly labelled with country of origin on the front of all packaging, and if they fail to do this, to clearly indicate products that do not comply.

"British pig producers appear to be paying the price for Morrisons' difficulty in bringing Safeway into profit," said Stewart Houston, who in the past fortnight has had constructive talks with both Tesco and Asda over best practice sourcing and labelling.

A BPEX report in April 2004 - 'Growth in pigmeat imports into the UK' - revealed that 70 percent of pork and pork products imported in 2003 did not conform to the UK's legal minimum standards with respect to pig welfare.

The report included a consumer survey that showed that more than 90 per cent of British consumers were concerned or very concerned to know that this was happening.

Since then, NPA has been discussing with major retailers and catering companies their policies with regard to sourcing.

"We are seeking honesty regarding sourcing policy. We are not looking to disrupt the free market of imports and exports," said Stewart Houston. "It is ethically sound that responsible retailers should make it clear where there is a level playing field for British producers and where there is not. In other words, do they support higher UK standards and if not, why not?"

Source: National Pig Association - 26th July 2004

5m Editor