GammonWatch reveals disappointing support for British produce

GammonWatch revealed British gammon can be supported more in some retailers
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The results from the National Pig Association’s (NPA) GammonWatch have shown that most retailers have low British shelf-facings on gammons. 

Over the past four weeks, members of the NPA have surveyed 150 supermarkets in 68 towns and cities across the country, checking gammon displays. The results revealed that Asda was the worst when it came to supporting British gammon displays, with only 8% of shelf-facings not being imported.

“We know high street competition is intense at present, but surely Asda could at least match the hard discounters and display a reasonable number of British gammon lines,” said NPA chairman Richard Lister, who is also a pig producer in North Yorkshire.

“We recognise there is a glut of pork available on the continent at present, and the strength of sterling makes it available over here at a very attractive price. But if retailers want the convenience of a thriving British pig sector on their doorstep, producing reliable supplies 52 weeks of the year of a quality-assured, traceable, high-welfare product, then it’s essential they make a special effort to support British pig farmers, particularly at present when an increasing number are selling pigs at a loss.”

However, supermarkets Waitrose, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and The Co-operative were all found to be supportive of the British produce, with 100% British gammon at competitive prices, according to the findings.

Meanwhile, Tesco was found to display 29% British gammon, although some stores had a higher offering than others.

Members of the ‘Hundred Percenters Club’ – retailers who source 100% fresh British pork – didn’t perform as well as expected. Morrisons only had 14% British shelf-facings on gammon, while Sainsbury’s was revealed to have 19%, although the NPA did say they recognised the supermarkets’ support in other pork categories.

Prior to the GammonWatch survey, PorkWatch surveyors recognised that discounter Aldi displayed 39% of British gammon facings, with 17% displayed by Lidl.

Findings showed that Lidl was now displaying 66% while Aldi unveiled its Christmas offer of one imported line and one premium British line, although in some stores the imported products were given more than one shelf-facing.

“Nobody is calling for 100% of British supermarkets to stock 100% British gammon,” said NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies. “But there are plenty of British pork legs available and we hope the poor performers will be much more supportive next year.

“Indeed, they could make amends by making a special effort to support British producers across all pork categories as we enter the New Year period, when the market always becomes very difficult.”

Davies highlighted that British pig producers have a reputation for their high-welfare husbandry. Whereas most continental pig producers confine their animals to stalls, British pig farmers “favour extensive production systems, where pigs are kept outdoors or in deep-strawed barns”.

Richard Longthorp, NPA’s vice-chairman, said this meant retailers needed to do more to support producers. “Producing high-welfare pigs outdoors or on straw carries a significant cost disadvantage and retailers must be mindful not to kill the golden goose,” he said.

“If they do, they will have let down their suppliers and they will have let down their customers who continue to demonstrate they want reasonably priced high-welfare, quality-assured British pork.”

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