Retailers stocking less British bacon, Porkwatch survey shows

The proportion of British bacon being stocked by UK retailers fell significantly at the start of this year, according to the latest results from AHDB’s Porkwatch survey.

Across the 11 retailers surveyed, 43% of bacon on display in January was British, compared with 48% in November 2019 and 48% a year ago. The figure had reached a recent high of 50% in March 2019.

There were big some drops among individual retailers. The Asda figure for bacon dropped to just 24% in January from 32% in November, while the 40% of British bacon on display at Morrisons, down from 52% in November, was its lowest figure recorded in this category.

Sainsbury’s bacon facings were just 45% in January, compared with 55% in November; Lidl was down from 30% to 26% and Budgens from 43% to 34%. The figure for Iceland was just 6%. Tesco remained at an already low 34%, while Aldi was relatively steady at 43%. The better news was that Co-op, M&S and Waitrose were found to be stocking 100% British bacon.

Other categories were more stable. Overall, the proportion of British fresh pork on retail shelves was marginally down from 79% in November to 78%, while ham was up two percentage points to 62% and sausage was stable at 85%.

The positives included an increase in British ham on display at Morrisons, from 60% to 72%, and Tesco, from 50% to 54%. Waitrose returned to 100% British fresh pork, meaning only Tesco (58%), Asda (49%, down from 53%) and Iceland (43%, up from 29%), failed to stock 100% British pork.

Waitrose, M&S and the Co-op continued to lead the way in the proportion of British pork products on display, all stocking 100% in at least two categories and 89% or above in the others. Sainsbury’s was the best of the rest.

Asda, Tesco and Iceland continue to be the poorest supporters of British pork producers in terms of the percentage of British products on display.

The full survey results can be viewed here

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said the drop-off in British bacon on display over a period of just two months was ‘alarming’. “First of all, I want to congratulate Waitrose, M&S and the Co-op for continuing to source 100% British bacon, while others seem to abandoning it, and leading the way, generally, in backing British pig producers.

“But the reduction in British bacon being sourced is a worrying trend and we are trying to establish why it is happening. Are retailers finding it harder to source British bacon because of the volumes being exported to China? Or this is a deliberate decision to bring more pork in from Europe?”

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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.