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NPA invites retailers and restaurants to sign honesty pledge

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

UK - We don't want to stop imports of pork but shoppers must know what they are buying, says the National Pig Association. Its new Best Practice Guidelines are launched today (Thursday July 8) by Lord Carter (pictured), on behalf of Defra.

National
Pig
Association

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THE VOICE OF THE UK PIG INDUSTRY

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.

One supermarket, Tesco, has indicated its support for the Guidelines and several others are expected to do likewise over the next few weeks.

Supermarkets that sign up to the Guidelines will be affirming that:

  • 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. If they fail to do this, they will clearly indicate products that do not comply.

And foodservice companies will be affirming that:
  • They source only to British pig production standards and their supply chains are transparently and independently audited.

  • Wholesalers will clearly label the country of origin of fresh pork, bacon, ham and sausages on their price lists and caterers will use country of origin on their menus.

The NPA Best Practice Guidelines have been drawn up following publication of a recent report by the British Pig Executive (BPEX) which showed:

  • Imports of pork and processed pork products soared 14 percent last year but around 70 percent came from pig farms that would be illegal in Britain.

  • Over 90 percent of British consumers want imported meat to come from farms that meet British production standards.

NPA chairman Stewart Houston said today that the Best Practice Guidelines would help make NPA's relationship with retailers and foodservice companies more efficient.

'In our attempts to keep them focused on British standards there is a lot of repetition in our communications with them. This initiative means that once a company has signed up we need only monitor it and get in touch if something has gone awry.'

Retailers who supported British pig production standards were disadvantaged by competitors who sold cheaper meat from pig farms that would be illegal in Britain, said Mr Houston.

The NPA's Best Practice Guidelines would help focus public attention on the more ethical stance of companies that took product sourcing and differentiation seriously, and would give NPA more time to concentrate on the retailers and foodservice companies that did not.

  • British pork and pork products attract a premium on supermarket shelves because many shoppers prefer to buy British and because British pigs are raised to higher welfare standards than generally apply elsewhere in the world.

  • There are instances of imported pork and pork products being labelled in a way that can cause shoppers to think they are British meat.

  • Tertiary brands are a particular minefield; they may use bogus local-sounding names to disguise the fact that the pork, bacon or ham is imported.

  • Shoppers are further confused because imported meat that is processed in this country can legally be labelled as "British".

  • The British Pig Executive published this spring on the growth in pigmeat imports to the United Kingdom in 2003 includes a survey that shows 92 percent of consumers want imported meat to be produced to standards that are equivalent to those in the UK.

A message from food and farming minister Lord Whitty

"...A service to customers, and one that I applaud"

"I understand the National Pig Association, in association with the British Pig Executive, is developing best practice guidelines to help make consumers better informed about methods and origin of pigmeat production.

"The pig industry is seeking to work with retailers and the food service, through enhanced transparent product labelling, which provides clear information to customers about the products they buy.

"This should lead to consumers having more information about products, in a way that enables them to compare the merits of products from different sources at the point of purchase.

"I very much welcome such voluntary initiatives, between parts of the supply chain, which embrace the principle of informed customer choice. Providing information about production methods and standards represents a valuable and transparent service to customers, and one that I applaud. I look forward to hearing how this initiative develops and the outcome it delivers."

Source: National Pig Association - 8th July 2004

5m Editor