National Pig Association (NPA) chairman Stuart Houston wrote a letter to all the major multiples last week, accusing them of squeezing processors “until the pip squeaks” and warning them that processors are “preparing to renege on contracts”.
Houston said that there has been a “significant” walk away from British to imported product and pointed to the latest Pork-watch figures, which reveal that the total amount of pork on supermarket shelves identified as British has dropped by 5% since March 2009.
Tesco, which has seen a 14% drop in British pork and a 12.5% drop in British bacon on its shelves since March 2009, has now pledged to move back to the percentage of British pork seen at the beginning of the year and even go beyond it. The retailer has also promised to use more British pork in its promotional campaigns, and said that it is “committed to helping British pig industry get into the right place”.
Asda, which is stocking nearly 10% less British pork than in March, has also said it will increase the percentage of British pork in its stores, although Houston pointed out that there is an element of seasonality to this. “In the long term, the NPA is seeking to establish a more equitable approach to this policy,” he said, adding that further discussions are scheduled for November.
Sainsbury’s, which has seen a 3% drop in British pork and a 16% drop in British bacon on its shelves, confirmed that it would continue to move towards stocking more British pork, but did not give any sort of timescale.
Houston described the response as “positive”, but said the long-term problem of the “broken and disconnected” supply chain remained unsolved. “This is being addressed by the Pig Task force, but there is still a lot to be done,” he said.
The NPA is pushing for all retailers to commit to sourcing 100% British pork. Houston pointed out that this week marks two years since pig producers held a demonstration at the IGD conference, at which Morrisons signed a commitment to source only British pork. “And it hasn’t done their sales any harm,” he said.