Leading UK retailers reduce proportion of British pork on shelves, despite industry pleas

Some key UK retailers reduced the proportion of British pork on their shelves in March, despite industry calls to support the pig sector, the latest AHDB Porkwatch survey shows.

Overall, 79% of fresh pork on display was British, compared with 81% in the January survey, with Asda falling from 55% in January to 47%, its lowest level for some time. SimilarlyTesco’s proportion of fresh British pork fell from 58% to 52%, which is also well below its average level over the past year or so. Iceland stocked just 32% British fresh pork, down from 48% in January.

Aldi, Budgens, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose all continued to stock 100% British fresh pork.

In the other categories, the proportion of British bacon and ham on display increased:

  • The overall proportion of British bacon on display across the 11 retailers surveyed increased from 56% to 57%, with Co-op, M&S and Waitrose at 100%.
  • The proportion of British ham increased from 66% in January to 69%, with Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose all in excess of 90%
  • The proportion of British sausage on display was stable at 87%, with Aldi, M&S and Waitrose at 100%.

You can view the full AHDB Porkwatch survey results for March HERE

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Screen Shot 2021-04-17 at 08.56.29Retailer support plea

The latest figures come against the backdrop of the ‘perfect storm’ of events that hit the British pig sector at the start of this year and prompted Defra, at the NPA’s request, to convene a roundtable event incorporating producers, processors and retailers and search for solutions.

Until the gap started closing recently, there had been a large differential between unusually low EU pork prices and domestic pork prices for some time, which may have influenced retail buying decisions.

“Retailers at the roundtable event were supportive and said that demand for British pork was currently strong, so if processors could provide the product, they would sell it,” NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said.

However, only Morrisons has taken clear action since then to support the British sector, immediately announcing a consumer price promotion across its pork range, while maintaining the prices paid to its British pork suppliers. The retailer has since announced a welcome uplift in pork sales on the back of the promotions, which are continuing in April.

Dr Davies added: “We thank Morrisons for its excellent response in supporting British pig producers – it really has made a difference. We also continue to thank all those retailers that, as highlighted in the Porkwatch survey, continue to source a high proportion of British pork and use this as a selling point to customers.

“But, frankly, following the roundtable event, we expected more from some of the others. To see the proportion of British pork on display at Asda and Tesco actually falling in March is particularly disappointing.”

A follow-up retailer roundtable to discuss the pork situation, again convened by Defra, is due to take place on April 22.

Dr Davies said the NPA would continue to keep the pressure on retailers to support the industry and source more British pork, but not at the expense of British pig prices.

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.