Waitrose commits to buy British
As the UK pig industry continues to fight for survival, Waitrose has committed to buying all of its fresh pork and bacon from British farmers.
The retailer already sources 100% of its fresh pork and more than 90% of its bacon from the UK, but plans a full-scale switch to British before the end of the year. Waitrose has a unique payment model for its pig farmers, which takes into account the cost of production for the farmer to ensure that they receive sustainable and stable returns.
Speaking earlier this year, at the launch of Waitrose Food Illustrated's 'Save Our Bacon' campaign, Waitrose MD Mark Price critised the food retail industry for sourcing large quantities of pork and bacon from overseas, pointing out that Britain currently imports one-third of its pork and nearly 60% of its bacon from systems that would not necessarily be legal in the UK.
The retailer believes that there are strong animal welfare reasons for buying British pork and bacon. Waitrose has entirely eliminated farrowing crates from its Waitrose pork, bacon, sausage and British cooked meats. In addition, all Waitrose sows spend their entire lives in free-range production systems, with piglets born in straw-filled arcs.
Natalie Mitchell, senior meat buyer at Waitrose, said: "British pig farmers produce some of the world's best pork - and they need our support now more than ever before.
"It would be an absolute travesty if Britain were to lose one of its finest farming industries at a time when Britain is sourcing large quantities of bacon from abroad. Our decision to source all of our own-label fresh pork, bacon and sausages from the UK sends out a strong vote of support to British pig farmers, who are experiencing very difficult trading conditions."
Stewart Houston, chairman of the National Pig Association and BPEX, said: "This is very good news for the British pig industry and Waitrose is to be congratulated for the move. The tangible support Waitrose has shown for the British pig industry is most welcome in these difficult times.
"That support manifests itself in the innovative buying policy, which maximises the value of the pig throughout the supply chain, and it is something we believe should be adopted more widely. Once again, Waitrose has taken the lead."