Pork firm comes under fire

A company that sells pork products to raise money for troops has been slammed for not supporting the British pig industry.

Red Lion Foods, which has raised £400,000 for Help for Heroes and other charities since its inception 12 months ago, has admitted it cannot guarantee its products are from the UK — despite its patriotic packaging.

It comes as retailers have pushed up the cost of certain pork products and campaigners wait to see if the increase in profi ts has passed down the chain (see page 10).

Barney Kay, from the National Pig Association (NPA), said: “Here is a brand that is being knowingly used by the retailers to hit certain fixed price points, using cheap, foreign, low-welfare, imported pork and using the rosy halo-eff ect that people will naturally assume that it is British pig meat — which does have a higher welfare and higher production costs.

“What this brand seems to be saying is ‘Get behind our British boys in the forces, but who cares about our British pig producers — we’re going to sell imported pork’. I think if you asked any consumer and showed them that label, they would say it was British. It is an absolute disgrace!”

Cranswick Foods supplies Red Lion pork products, including chops, sausages and bacon. A typical package, of Red Lion sliced ham, reads: “Support our UK Forces. Purchase this ham” on the front. On the back, it reads: “Cooked and packed in the UK using pork from the EU and South America”.

Sales of pork have improved in recent months, but campaigners say that is down to retailers importing from countries abroad that do not have the same welfare standards as the UK.

Red Lion Foods marketing director David Wilkinson was unable to tell Meat Trades Journal what percentage of its pork was British. He said supplier Cranswick would source from abroad
when Red Lion products were on promotion, but that some products were also British. “We want to offer consumers value-for-money, so we want to make sure our products are tasty, so people can eat and do good.

“We would ideally want people to use British and a lot of our products are British. But as Red Lion, we cannot dictate exactly where it comes from.”

Bernard Hoggarth, Cranswick’s chief executive, added: “We buy British pork for the Red Lion brand whenever we can. However, we are sometimes required to use imported alternatives if we cannot meet the demands of products on promotion. This ensures potential revenue for troops’ charities is not lost.

“With 100% of Red Lion’s post-tax profits donated to armed forces charities, the priority for us is to not prevent sales. We are committed to buying British if this is a viable option and we offer our customers options for British Red Lion products, such as a 100% British bacon range, which will
soon be available on retailers’ shelves.

“The Red Lion stance is in line with the majority of retailers’ policies in the current challenging and promotional price-driven marketplace.”

>> NPA chief blasts supermarkets