NFUS Pork Shelfwatch Finds Significant Shortage of Scottish on Supermarket Shelves

Poor country of origin labelling and co-mingling also identified

NFU Scotland’s secret shoppers have found significant scope to increase the volumes of Scottish pork, ham and bacon on many supermarket shelves while general support for UK produce was good.

However, product labels often made identifying the country of origin of the pigmeat very difficult to ascertain, particularly on processed goods and members reported finding imported pork and bacon on shelves branded with point-of-sale Scottish saltires.

As with Scottish red meat, Aldi and Lidl proved to be the biggest supporters of Scottish-labelled pork; Morrisons, the Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer strongly supported UK pigmeat while Asda continues to source most of its pork from non-UK sources.  However, Asda were close to the top when it came to UK sausages while Aldi were the poorest supporter of UK bacon.

Identifying Scottish or British produce was, in many cases, very difficult and Pigs Policy Manager Penny Middleton explained: “There remains a large amount of co-mingling taking place, with anecdotal evidence of non-Scottish product placed on shelves that were showing saltires above the cabinets.  
“In Asda and Tesco, product was very mixed up with pork from several different origins completely mixed within the same range and often with very similar packaging, making it easy for shoppers to inadvertently buy product from elsewhere whilst thinking they were buying Scottish or British.

“Fresh pork must all be labelled with the country of rearing and the country of slaughter but our ‘shoppers’ reported finding it difficult sometimes to identify the country of origin beyond simply being reported at ‘EU’.

“Processed pork products are not bound by the same rules regarding Country of Origin Labelling (COOL), but it is required to include COOL where other information on the label may otherwise be confusing – such as ‘Wiltshire cured ham’.  

“There were plenty of products found labelled with the UK oval health mark of the meat plant that processed the product, but it was very difficult to ascertain the country of origin of the meat.  Many packs simply said ‘using meat from the EU’ somewhere in small lettering, so it was impossible to determine exactly where the meat was produced.

“The was frustration in our shoppers that Tesco continues to mislead consumers by selling non-British product under its brand ‘Woodside farm’, providing the impression it is ‘locally produced’ from a known farm, when it is anything but.

“Also, products being sold by ‘the Scottish butcher’, Simon Howie were also found to be confusing to our secret shoppers.  The products were cured in Scotland but not made from Scottish pigmeat.  Unfortunately, such labelling is above board but most definitely misleading!” 

Notes to Editors

NFUS Pork shelf watch 2019

In total 40 shops were looked at with individuals counting the packs of fresh pork products, including joints, chops steaks etc, bacon, Ham and sausages, looking to record the country of origin information for the products.

Aldi: With 100% of their fresh pork Scottish they are definitely the best supporter of Scottish Pork for the fresh meat category.
Despite being strong supporters in the fresh meat category the same cannot be said for Bacon and they score the worst with 77% of their Bacon coming from generic EU sources.

Asda: Asda, consistent with previous shelf watch surveys, show no real loyalty to UK producers with very high levels of fresh pork, bacon and ham all coming from EU sources. Credit is due though when it comes to sausages as 74% of their sausages appear to be from British pork, beaten only by Marks and Spencer’s and Morrisons.

Co-op: Co-op continue to be strong supporters of UK livestock production with all their meat, in all categories, coming from either Scottish or British sources, with a roughly 50:50 split.

Lidl: Lidl, like Aldi, do try to support Scottish in their fresh meat range, but fall behind Aldi, only managing to stock 57% Scottish with the remainder coming from EU sources.  They are the highest stockist of Scottish ham though and between British and Scottish they do well on using UK produced meat in their sausages.

Marks and Spencer: As expected, M&S continue to support UK agriculture stocking only British across all categories.  It would be good however, to see Scottish product in Scottish stores.  It must be noted however that only 1 M&S store was surveyed.
Morrisons: Good support for UK fresh pork, given the history of links with Morrisons and Scottish agriculture it would be great to see a return to them stocking Scottish product in Scottish stores.  They also do well when it comes to sausages with 78% coming from British pork, but again it would be nice to see some Scottish pork sausages.

Sainsbury’s: Good supporters on the fresh meat side, using 100% British fresh pork, again it would be good to see some identifiable Scottish pork in the Scottish stores.  With 60% of their bacon and 53% of ham all coming from British pork they perform well, but there is definite room for improvement in their sausages.

Tesco: Good to see some Scottish fresh pork in Tesco stores and some good Scottish sausages, some small but notable improvements as industry notes that Tesco have started to use Scottish Pork in one of their ham ranges.  Steps in the right direction but still with room to improve.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 55/19

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About The Author

Bob Carruth

A dairy farmer’s son, I joined NFU Scotland in 1999 after 13 years as an agricultural journalist. Following spells as a regional manager and policy lead on milk, livestock and animal health and welfare, I became Communications Director in 2008.

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