Retailers that support Britain’s high-welfare pig farmers by offering a good choice of British gammon this Christmas will be publicly commended by pig farmers — but those that have put in a bulk Christmas order from countries with lower animal welfare standards, or that offer misleadingly labelled gammons, will be named and shamed.
National Pig Association’s Christmas GammonWatch campaign was launched this week and NPA members have already started conducting surveys in supermarkets across the country. Their findings will be reported in weekly bulletins from now to Christmas.
“In addition to carrying out our own checks, we are asking shoppers to check gammon labels carefully this Christmas to ensure the product they buy is made from cured British leg of pork, and not from imported pork that has only been cured in Britain,” said National Pig Association chairman Richard Lister.
“If our prices fall any further we will see some pig farmers freezing all investment in new buildings next year and others quitting altogether, and either route will be a serious blow to an industry that is known the world over for its high-welfare, high-quality product.”
NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies said, “We know from successive surveys that customers prefer to buy British pork and pork products even if it costs a penny or two more for the extra quality we offer. This is especially true since Horsegate in 2013 when most retailers sought to reassure customers by promising to stock more British meat.”
Typically only 30 percent of gammons for the festive market are British, despite there being a plentiful supply from domestic producers. NPA is determined this must change, particularly when many producers are sliding into the red.
In addition to member surveys, NPA’s Christmas GammonWatch campaign will include a special PorkWatch survey in December. Porkwatch is the industry’s professionally researched and compiled bi-monthly survey of British pork, bacon, ham and sausage facings in supermarkets, and next month it will be extended to include gammon
Nearly half Britain’s sows are kept outdoors, with their progeny raised in straw barns to RSPCA Assured (formerly Freedom Food) standards, a form of high-welfare husbandry almost unheard of in other countries.
All British pork and pork products in supermarkets come from farms that have been independently audited for regulatory compliance and which undergo quarterly “Real Welfare” inspections by vets. Real Welfare, which exceeds requirements laid down by European Union and United Kingdom law, is a quantum leap in animal welfare, where specially-trained vets record iceberg welfare indicators such as environmental enrichment and pen management.
Real Welfare data is now helping British pig-keepers continually improve animal welfare, based on robust empirical evidence. It’s absolutely in tune with European Commission animal welfare policy—and British pig producers are leading the way.