Pig farming industry leaders have hit out at a number of retailers for reducing the amount of British pork they stock on their shelves.
The National Pig Association (NPA) said although some retailers responded to industry calls to support pig farmers by upping the amount of British pork they sell, others have reduced their domestic offering and instead increased the amount of foreign pork on their shelves.
In February the organisation held a roundtable meeting with people from across the supply chain, including retailers, to discuss problems in the sector which were leaving many pig farmers losing £20 for every animal they produce.
They called on retailers to support the sector through the problems – caused by a combination of Covid-19 problems in pork processing plants and post-Brexit export disruption – by increasing the amount of British pork on offer in their shops.
“Retailers at the roundtable event were supportive and said that demand for British pork was currently strong, so if processors could provide the product, they would sell it,” said NPA chief executive Zoe Davies.
However she said despite these assurances, figures from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) show the proportion of pork on display in supermarkets which was British reduced to 79% in March, compared to 81% in January.
The figures show the proportion of British pork in Asda, Tesco and Iceland reduced between January and March.
Asda’s British pork offering reduced to 47%, from 55% in January, while Tesco’s offering reduced to 52%, from 58% before. Only 32% of the fresh pork on offer in Iceland was British – down from 48% in January.
Other major retailers – Aldi, Budgens, Co-op, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose – were found to stock 100% British fresh pork.
Ms Davies said only Morrisons had taken “clear action” to support the British pig farming sector, by immediately announcing a consumer price promotion across its pork range, while maintaining the prices paid to its pig farmer suppliers.
“We thank Morrisons for its excellent response in supporting British pig producers – it really has made a difference,” added Ms Davies.
“We also continue to thank all those retailers that continue to source a high proportion of British pork and use this as a selling point to customers.
“But, frankly, following the roundtable event, we expected more from some of the others. To see the proportion of British pork on display at Asda and Tesco actually falling in March is particularly disappointing.”
She said a follow-up meeting with retailers to discuss the pig sector problems, convened by Defra, is due to take place on Thursday April 22.