The NPA has criticised Asda for its failure to support the British pig industry after the latest Porkwatch survey showed only a third of the fresh pork on its shelves was British.
The May survey showed that eight of the top 10 UK retailers again stocked 100% British fresh pork, while Tesco made impressive strides, increasing its proportion of British fresh pork facings from in 66% in March and 62% in January to 69%.
But Asda’s fresh pork British facings dropped from 44% in March to just 34% in May, suggesting that two-thirds of its pork on display is imported. This drop was consistent across the stores sampled. It is understood Asda is importing more pork for its summer barbecue range.
The Leeds-based retailer has been consistently bottom of the pile when it comes to sourcing British pork products – and the latest figures only reinforce this position.
Asda also posted the lowest figure when it came to bacon, 31%, albeit up from 21% in March and 20% a year ago. Only Lidl (32%), scored lower than Asda’s 40% on ham and, on British sausage facings, only Budgens (71%) was below Asda’s 78%.
Overall, across all of the top 10 retailers, the AHDB survey showed 79% of fresh pork facings were British, along with 51% of bacon, 69% of ham and 85% of sausage. While fresh pork was fractionally down on last year, all other categories were up.
Other significant developments included Aldi returning to 100% British sausage, while Tesco’s ham British facings were also up, from up 62% to 72%. In fact, there was growth in Red Tractor products in pork, bacon, ham and sausage in Tesco.
Marks & Spencer and Waitrose led the way, scoring 100% on fresh pork, bacon and sausage and 95% and 91% respectively on ham. The Co-op also posted impressive figures, including 100% British fresh pork and bacon, 98% ham and 85% sausage.
But the main focus will inevitably be on Asda, even more so in the wake of the recent that it is set to merge with Sainsbury’s to create a new giant retailer that would become the UK’s biggest.
During a feisty session in front of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee last week, Asda CEO Roger Burnely refuted ‘that it is the supplier who is paying the price’ for the 10% consumer price cuts the retailers promised as a result of the merger. He insisted the retailer wanted to source British ‘wherever we can’.
EFRA chair Neil Parish was deeply unimpressed with the lack of detail provided by Mr Burnley, accusing him of providing the MPs with ‘Mickey Mouse figures’ and of telling the committee ‘a load of nursery rhymes’, rather than hard facts.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “Overall the latest Porkwatch figures paint a positive picture, with eight retailers stocking 100% fresh British pork and making this selling point to customers. We thank them for their support and are also very pleased to see the efforts made by Tesco to stock more British pigmeat.
“But Asda’s performance is, frankly, shocking. It has consistently been shown to be the worst supporter of the British pig industry among all the big retailers and these figures confirm it is simply going from bad to worse.
“The situation is even more concerning given the planned Sainsbury’s-Asda merger. If Asda’s philosophy of shunning British pork in favour of imported pork is carried over to the new organisation, this will be of great concern to the pork sector.
“We will be seeking some urgent answers.”