Pig sector appalled by Asda move

A row has broken out between Asda and British pig farmers after 
Kantar Worldpanel data appeared to show the retailer’s support of UK product fell sharply in the run-up 
to Christmas.

Angry producers have attacked the retailer, accusing it of betraying its UK suppliers, after the data revealed the overall share of British pork being sold by the Leeds-based retailer plummeted to 30% in the four weeks to Christmas 2011, compared to 70% the previous year.

Only 13% of leg roasting joints on sale in Asda in the four-week pre-Christmas period were identified as British — down from 97% in the comparable four-week period in 2010. Producers accused the retailer of switching to cheaper imports for promotion during the festive season.

Zoe Davies, general manager with the National Pig Association, said: “It’s a real slap in the face for British pig farmers, who have committed to producing high-welfare, high-quality products, and it’s a betrayal of its own customers for Asda to turn its back on the values and standards it claims to promote.

“It’s especially galling when farmers’ representative bodies have spent so much time and effort working with retailers to promote the benefits of high-welfare Red Tractor pork.”

Chris Brown, Asda’s head of ethical and sustainable sourcing, said: “They’re on a bit of a sticky wicket with this, as Kantar says you cannot use the data in the way they are doing. You cannot extrapolate from a sample of 1,200 to total epos data.” However, he refused to comment further on whether the data accurately reflected the reality of the situation at Asda in the run-up to Christmas.