Co-op goes British on ham

The Co-operative claimed it is delivering on its commitment to support British pig farmers by converting all its own-brand pre-packed ham to 100% British pork from today (Monday 9 March).

The move, which includes all products with the obvious exception of continental hams such as Parma and Prosciutto, will extend further during 2009 to include all Co-operative own-brand ham sold over deli counters, the retailer said.

It added that the initiative demonstrated The Co-operative's commitment to British farmers and animal welfare standards. The initiative means that all pork used in The Co-operative's own-brand pre-packed ham will be reared as a minimum to the Red Tractor standard. Around 73 UK farms will supply The Co-operative's British ham.

All The Co-operative's own-brand fresh pork, bacon and sausages already only come from British-reared pigs. Additionally, all own-brand fresh beef, duck, turkey, trout, salmon and fresh and frozen chicken (whole birds and portions) are 100% British. This switch also follows the recent move to using only outdoor-reared Freedom Food-accredited Hampshire breed pork in The Co-operative's premium Truly Irresistible range of fresh pork, bacon and sausages.

The Co-operative is also planning to introduce even higher-welfare criteria to all its own-brand standard fresh pork by autumn 2009, when all its pigs will be reared to The Co-operative's own higher-welfare Elmwood specification.

The retailer's continuing commitment to improving animal welfare standards is in line with The Co-operative's ground-breaking Food Ethical Policy, which was launched in February 2008, based on the responses of more than 100,000 customer-members across the UK. Animal welfare emerged as one of the main areas that members wished to see prioritised by the business.

Debbie Robinson, director of food retail marketing at The Co-operative Group, said: "These initiatives demonstrate our commitment to our customers and members to lead the way on animal welfare issues, whilst supporting British farmers and championing British products. The Co-operative sells almost 110 tonnes of ham per week, so it's a significant move to ensure that it is all British going forward."