Talk British

Editor's comment

Tertiary brands have always provided a back-door route for the less welfare-friendly suppliers of bacon and pork, and the retailers have long used them as a means to sneak cheaper supplies onto their shelves.

I do have sympathy for the UK's pig farmers. They were forced into a position of increasing their costs to meet the requirements of UK welfare legislation. While part of me laments the fact that producers had to be forced by law to raise their standards, rather than leading the field on the issue, I do recognise the unfairness of the situation, which has created, to use the common cliché, an unlevel playing field, and I deplore the tactics of the big retailers in bringing in lower-standard meat along with the lack of clear labelling.

But where I feel the industry is perhaps missing a trick is the way in which it has dealt with the situation. Every now and then we have a protest, usually revolving around the supermarkets stocking low-welfare bacon and pork products. Yet rather than shout about the dodgy practices of others, why is the industry not shouting about its own higher standards to the people who matter - the consumers. We frequently see a negatively-focused campaign. When UK pig bosses have spoken to consumers, it's usually to point out the competition's deficits, not necessarily pointing out why consumers should be choosing British.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and positive campaigns have happened, and are happening, but I would guess they haven't really registered with the consumer. Simply pointing out what's wrong with your competitors is a dangerous game. There may well be areas in which they are stronger, and do you really want them highlighting that?

After all, putting out a strong positive case for why consumers should choose UK meat has got to be a better story, hasn't it?

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