Supermarkets plumb new depths

UK - The latest PorkWatch results demonstrate why NPA's Stewart Houston sounded the alarm a month ago and why BPISG has been active over the past few weeks. The amount of British pork on supermarket shelves has fallen to a new low - just 76 percent.
calendar icon 26 April 2006
clock icon 5 minute read

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.

"Supermarkets know 90 percent of consumers expect the pork they sell to meet British welfare standards. As nearly all imported pork fails fully to reach these standards and comes from farms that would be illegal in this country, we must assume most supermarkets are more concerned with market share and profit than with listening to their customers," said Stewart Houston.

"The big noises the retailers are making about their top-tier product makes them sound good but in fact their manstream suppliers remain extremely vulnerable."

A BPISG spokesman said today that in view of the latest PorkWatch figures its stickering campaign continues and further disruption at retail distribution centres is likely.

'We know our WARNING stickers are having a significant impact and we'll step up this activity if necessary. There is no shortage of volunteers.'

BPISG is particularly concerned by what PorkWatch has to say about the 'unethical' selling stance of Sainsbury's and the Co-Op. "These two retailers are likely targets for further action," said a spokesman.

This summary below is taken from data collected by the pig industry during March and shows how supermarkets have been increasing the amount of low-welfare foreign pork they sell.

The continued impact of retailers and their suppliers sourcing imported pork is shown by the fact that Porkwatch now measures only 76% of fresh pork facings on retailers' shelves as being British, with only 29% of bacon and 29% of ham facings being recorded as British.

Tesco. Fresh pork British facings are up slightly in this phase, but well down on a year ago. This is as a result of more imported pork in their own label packs; one thing to be said for Tesco is that they have never resorted to tertiary brands of fresh pork unlike their main competitors. Good to see the impact of the switch of supply for their Finest bacon range, which is now exclusively British.

Asda. A mixture of good and bad news from Asda. On the one hand they have now delisted the Abbey Fayre tertiary brand range of fresh pork products, which was all imported and from indeterminate welfare status sources. On the other they have now started to stock imported fresh pork in their own label range. Continued disappointment that their share of space devoted to British bacon is declining, but there are murmurings that they might switch some bacon from Dutch to British later this year. Do they have any interest at all in sourcing British ham?

Sainsburys. For a retailer who markets itself on its "foodie" values, Sainsbury's figure of only 70% of space devoted to British fresh pork is surprising and well below the market average figure. The reason is the amount of imported pork they have been selling under tertiary brand labels. German, Spanish, French, you name it, they appear to have stocked it in the last few months. Their bacon and ham figures are about on a par with the market average, but without core commitment to British standards in fresh pork, that is scant consolation.

Morrisons. The drop in fresh pork facings compared to a year ago is due to their Fresh Choice range of boneless loin (Dutch) and bone-in chops (Belgian). Good figures for ham. With their in-store cutting and packing operation they will unfortunately always suffer some control issues regarding the physical application of the Quality Standard Mark on to packs, but the head office specification to stores is clear and unequivocal.

Somerfield. Disappointing decline since the January figures for fresh pork, especially in the light of a commitment to stock at least 70% of their pork as British.

Waitrose. Good all round as usual. Just wish they would start to use the Quality Standard Mark on pack; they have been using it as a shelf-edge message.

M&S. Slightly lower figures for British ham and bacon as they are increasing their use of imported pigmeat.

Co-op. Appear to be reducing the commitment to British pork, bacon and ham. For a retailer with such strong ethical credentials it is very disappointing to see them stocking tertiary brands of imported pork, with some decidedly "British-sounding" names. Poor practice.

Budgens. Figures way above the market average, although British bacon share declining.

Source:By Digby Scott, National Pig Association - 26th April 2006
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