PorkWatch results for September 2004

by 5m Editor
14 October 2004, at 12:00am

UK - English supermarkets are cutting back on the amount of space they give on their shelves to fresh British pork, according to the latest PorkWatch survey.


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.

Of the big three, Asda has improved its performance but Tesco and Sainsbury have dropped back - Tesco by seven percent last month, and Sainsbury by twelve percent.

  • Tesco and Sainsbury sell more cheap imported pork
  • Asda sells more fresh British pork

“It is disappointing news for shoppers, who have made it clear they want honestly-labeled fresh British pork rather than imported pork which invariably is not as fresh and is of poorer quality,“ said PorkWatch chairman Richard Lister, a pig farmer in Yorkshire.

The PorkWatch survey is carried out by English pig farmers, to provide shoppers with an up-to-date guide to which supermarkets are supporting fresh home-produced pork.

Meat labeling is a minefield of misleading information, so the farmers who check out around 300 stores every other month accept only the independently-audited British Quality Standard Mark as proof that pork is genuinely British, and not imported meat masquerading as British.

“Competition between supermarkets intensified this summer and supermarkets piled their shelves with cheap imported pork, whilst many British pig farmers found there were no buyers for their higher-quality home-produced pork,“ said Richard Lister.

“It is an indication of just how powerful the supermarkets have become that in their quest for more market share they can ignore the wishes of their customers.“

British pork is of higher quality than most imported pork because it is produced locally, all breeding pigs are kept outdoors or are loose-housed indoors on straw, and under the British Quality Standard Mark scheme the farms are checked regularly by vets and independent inspectors.

The September PorkWatch survey is disappointing, because it may indicate a supermarket trend towards cheaper, inferior pork. But it is not all bad news...

  • Like Asda, the Co-op improved its performance.

  • And although Budgens showed a drop of 67 percent this was only a temporary labeling blip, as all its fresh pork is British.

  • The same is true of Morrisons, which continues to sell 100 percent fresh British pork.

The survey shows that shelf space devoted to Quality Standard Mark ham and bacon remains reasonably stable. But the figures are disappointing nevertheless: only 11 percent of ham is British Quality Standard Mark, and only 16 percent of bacon.

(1) The aim of the PorkWatch survey is to show consumers where they can best buy British pork, bacon and ham, which is produced to higher welfare and whole chain assurance standards than most imported pork, much of which is produced in conditions that would be illegal in Britain.

(2) M&S and Waitrose are not included in the published PorkWatch results because although they sell mostly British fresh pork, bacon and ham, they do not use the Quality Standard Mark.

(3) The British Quality Standard Mark is the genuine indicator that the product concerned is farm assured and British. British pork and pork products attract a premium on supermarket shelves because many shoppers prefer to buy British and because many are aware that British pigs are raised to higher welfare standards than generally apply on the continent. There are instances of imported pork and pork products being labeled in a way that might cause shoppers to believe, erroneously, they are British. Tertiary brands are a further minefield; some tertiary brands may use 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 labeled as “British“.

The PorkWatch website has been updated today, with results from the September survey.

Source: National Pig Association - 13th October 2004

5m Editor