European Union mandatory origin labelling rules for fresh and frozen meat have helped boost interest among foodservice companies in sourcing pork from British farms, according to the National Pig Association (NPA).
The NPA said foodservice companies were surprised to find the pork they were selling had been imported from the continent, leading them to question the provenance of the ham, bacon and sausages they serve, even though these are not yet covered by mandatory origin labelling.
Chief executive Dr Zoe Davies said: “We are seeing a surge in enquiries from restaurants, pubs, hotels and even fast-food caterers, and we hope to be able to announce, in due course, that some have decided to go the McDonald’s route and source all-British pork and pork products. Some are interested in sourcing premium free-range pork and some want competitively-priced British commercial pork, but the common factor is an interest in being able to guarantee British provenance.”
The European labelling rule requires all packaging, including wholesale pork for foodservice outlets, to state the country or countries where the animals were reared and slaughtered. It also requires the origin statement to be backed by a paper trail back to the farm of origin, so the origin claim can be checked by regulators.
The NPA has been stressing the importance of mentioning British provenance on wall and table menus.
“If you sell British pork, then it makes good business sense to advertise the fact,” said chairman Richard Lister. “We know it pays dividends, because a recent YouGov survey showed that when it comes to customer trust, foodservice outlets have a long way to go before they catch up with retailers.
“British pig farmers have a reputation for exemplary animal welfare, and the eating quality of our product is superior too, because unlike the continental europig industry, which produces large quantities of carbon-copy pork, British pig farmers satisfy consumer desire for different production systems, such as outdoor free-range, outdoor-bred and outdoor-reared pork.”