The proportion of British fresh pork on the shelves of the big UK retailers increased during November, thanks largely to an apparent shift in sourcing habits from Asda.
Across the 11 retailers surveyed the latest AHDB Porkwatch survey, the proportion of British pork facings increased from 77% in September to 80% in November. This compared with 79% in November 2020.
Overall British bacon facings were up from 52% in September to 54%, while ham was down from 65% to 63% and sausage down from 87% to 86%.
The fresh pork figure is welcome, given the industry’s current struggles and the large volumes of significantly cheaper EU pork currently available to UK retailers.
With most of the big retailers, minus Asda, Tesco and Iceland at or close to 100% on fresh British pork facings, the main driver for the much-improved fresh pork figure was an increase in Asda’s fresh pork facings from 41% in September to 56% in November. This compares with 51% in November 2020 and just 39% in July 2021.
Asda’s bacon facings were also significantly up, from a recent low of 29% in September to 41% in November, while its ham facings were up from 26% to 29% and sausage facings were stable at 83%.
The Asda results mark a departure from previous survey, which have generally seen Asda at or close to the bottom of the pile when it comes to British pork products on display.
However, there was disappointingly little movement from Tesco – its fresh pork facings were up from 55% in September to 56% In November, putting it on a par with Asda. This was alongside minimal change in the other categories, recording 38% in bacon, 59% for ham, and 83% sausage.
Other highlights from the latest survey included:
- Aldi, Budgens, Co-op, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose all recorded 100% on fresh pork, with Lidl on 99% and Iceland just 22%.
- Scoring highly across the board on British were M&S, with 100% on bacon and sausage and 96% on ham, the Co-op at 100% British bacon, 95% on ham and 85% on sausage, and Waitrose at 97% on sausage, 93% on bacon and 85% on ham.
- Aldi’s sausage facings were 100% British, with ham up from 81% at 85% and bacon at 47%.
- Sainsbury’s – with bacon at 66%, ham 92% and sausage 88% – and Morrisons – bacon 56%, ham 66% and sausage 80% – showed generally good support for British producers.
- Lidl was down to 27% on bacon, from 40% in September, down to 44% on ham (from 52%) and down to 92% on sausage (from 94%).
- Iceland was at a different level altogether, however, with bacon at just 11%, ham at 29% and sausage 59%.
- Overall, across the 11 supermarkets, Red Tractor facings were up from 50% to 54% for fresh pork, up from 21% to 24% for bacon, up from 17% to 18% for ham and unchanged at 53% for sausage.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies welcomed the general trends in this latest survey, but said there was still more retailers could do to support to struggling British pork producers.
“As always, we thank those retailers stocking 100% British pork or close to it and using that as a selling point to consumers.
“And I also want to single out Asda for the great strides it has made in increasing the proportion of British pork on its shelves. That has made a real difference and we look forward to seeing even further progress in the next Porkwatch survey!
“But it is disappointing to see no real progress in Tesco stores. We would love to see more British products on their shelves as we approach Christmas.
The NPA wrote to all the big retailers in October seeking commitments to back British producers during the current crisis.
“There is no doubt that demand for fantastic British pork remains strong,” Dr Davies added. “We continue to urge all retailers to do what they can to support producers during this crisis – whether through prioritising British pork over imports, wherever feasible, and promoting that to consumers, working with the supply chain to ease the backlog, or guaranteeing a sustainable price for pig producers, as Waitrose has done.”