NFU Scotland calls for supermarkets to step up on Scottish pork

NFU Scotland calls for supermarkets to step up on Scottish pork

On the day after the consultation period into the possible closure of Scotland’s biggest pig plant ends, NFU Scotland is praising some supermarkets for their increased commitment to Scottish pork and asking others to step up to the mark.

With Scotland’s largest pig plant at Halls of Broxburn under threat of closure, Scottish pig producers are considering how to cope with any potential disruption to the sector. Closure would not only remove abattoir capacity for pigs in Scotland but affect the ability to process and add value to Scottish pigmeat.

Retailer support for Scottish pork remains crucial for the future of the Scottish pig sector. An examination of shelves in major supermarkets by NFU Scotland has seen strong support for fresh Scottish and British pork from Morrisons and Marks and Spencer.

A meeting the day before yesterday between NFU Scotland and Sainsbury’s saw that retailer firm up on an earlier commitment that the fresh pork range in its Scottish stores will be 100% Scottish across basics and ‘By Sainsbury’s’ ranges by October.

While Scottish and British pork was available in Tesco, Asda and Aldi stores, significant and disappointing volumes of fresh pork from France, Holland, Denmark and Ireland were also on the shelf. Mystery product, labelled simply as ‘EU’ was also available.

On ham and bacon, only Marks and Spencer offered exclusively UK produce while all others saw shelf space dominated by Dutch and Danish with limited British produce available, if at all.

NFU Scotland food chain relationships manager Wendy Fleming said:
“These are difficult and uncertain times for the Scottish pig sector but there are positives to be gleaned from the amount of Scottish or UK product found on some store shelves and the commitment from some to increase the volumes of Scottish pork.

“Key to improving the lot of the Scottish pig farmer is encouraging those stores displaying significant volumes of fresh pork from outwith the UK to stock up with Scottish.

“We believe all retailers are under no illusions about the huge issues facing the Scottish pig industry and the boost that increased commitment may give. Last week’s census underlined that the sow herd is still falling and soaring feed prices seen this year have not been matched by an increase in general market returns.

“Some retailers have responded and have made an extra payment to their dedicated supply chain. We would want that to be the norm and believe that the price paid for all pork and pork products COULD better recognise the increased feed costs faced.

“On supplies, there remains a clear expectation from consumers that major retailers should support local producers, particularly given the high welfare standards that Scottish pig farmers meet.

“Come the end of the year, all EU pig producers will face a ban on the use of sow stalls – legislation that was unilaterally introduced here in the UK in January 1999. Those supermarkets sourcing pigmeat from outwith the UK have, on several occasions, reassured us that imported pigmeat on their shelves is produced to equivalent standards to those in place in the UK.

“However, it is clear from EU predictions, that several major pig producing nations are unlikely to meet the legislative deadline on the use of stalls. Given that some pigmeat appears on supermarket shelves under an ‘EU’ label, verification must be provided in the future that the meat has come from compliant units.

“To reassure Scottish pig producers and meet consumer expectation, all retailers should be committed to ‘local’ rather than ‘global’ sourcing of pigmeat. That approach will send out all the right signals to our pig farmers.”

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