Bpex criticises claim supermarkets support British pork

Bpex, the levy body, has criticised a claim by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) that UK supermarkets support British pork and UK farmers

The BRC said yesterday that keeping shop prices down was “right thing to do in the current financial climate” and added that retailers had no direct relationship with producers.

However, the claims have been dismissed by Bpex and National Pig Association (NPA) chairman Stewart Houston.

Ahead of today’s rally, Andrew Opie, the BRC’s food director, said: “Retailers know some consumers prefer to buy British. They’re already doing what they need to to look after their supply chain and secure a sustainable UK pig industry so they can sell the products people want to buy.

“Supermarkets do not pay farmers directly for their pork. The direct relationship is between farmers and processors. Blaming retailers ignores the importance of the buying decisions made by manufacturers and caterers. Keeping shop prices down is the right thing to do in the current financial climate. Making pork products more expensive will just cause customers to buy less, the opposite of what farmers want.”

Houston responded: “If the retailers are helping the industry I’d love to see how and where. The simple truth is their margins have been maintained at the expense of those at the start of the supply chain – the producers.

“Saying they have no direct relationship with producers is complete rubbish. They dictate prices to processors, who pass those prices directly to producers. It is a very short supply chain and they have nowhere to hide.”

“How much money there is in the supply chain is determined by the price supermarkets pay. It is as simple as that.”

When Meat Trades Journal contacted the BRC to see if we could obtain examples of how supermarket retailers are supporting British pork, a spokeswoman for the organisation said: “Obviously we comment on behalf of the sector rather than highlighting arrangements and promotions run by individual retailers.

“There is regular promotion of UK meat and UK standards by British retailers. The commitment to country of origin labelling is part of that – ensuring people can buy British meat with confidence and encouraging support for UK farmers. The hope is other sectors, particularly catering and manufacturing, will follow suit.

“Retailers also support the sale of pork products by keeping them at prices which are attractive and affordable for customers.”

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