MAJOR SUPERMARKETS have been questioned over their commitment to supporting Scottish and British pig farmers after a high proportion of non-British pork was found on their shelves.

NFU Scotland's latest shelf watch discovered that less than half the fresh pork on offer in Tesco and Asda has been found to come from British or Scottish farms.

The union has since contacted all major supermarkets to urge for a stronger commitment to domestic sourcing, to support local farmers and climate change targets.

Scottish pork production has faced disruption during the pandemic – strict safety measures in abattoirs have led to a backlog in pigs, compounded by temporary closures as a result of Covid-19 outbreaks. Exports have also been made more challenging due to Brexit and prices have fallen below the cost of production, exacerbated by cheaper supplies being sourced from Europe.

While some supermarkets are 100% committed to Scottish or British pork, or have a strong presence of home-produced products, others, particularly Tesco and Asda, are falling well short of what farmers and consumers would expect.

NFUS has stressed that both farmers and consumers deserve reassurances that British and Scottish pork will be readily available on every shop shelf.

“Some retailers are to be applauded for their strong commitment to sourcing British and Scottish pork, but others must step up to the plate in these challenging times," urged NFUS president Andrew McCornick.

“In the case of the Co-op, all fresh pork, as well as bacon and sausages are sourced from the UK, while Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, M&S, Lidl and Aldi are also coming across as very strong supporters of domestic production.

“In stark contrast, the display of pork in the Tesco and Asda stores that were examined was poor," he continued. "Less than half of the fresh pork on sale was British or Scottish and that is a shocking statistic. Both these stores have a strong public commitment to source other meats from the UK. They must show the same commitment to pork.

“NFUS has contacted all major retailers on the matter. For some major players, far greater support for Scottish and British pig farmers must be given and we will work with all retailers and other interested parties to see how domestic sourcing can be improved."

The union said that it would continue to monitor the volumes of Scottish and British pork on shop shelves and have stressed they will be in touch with UK processors in the next two weeks to see if orders from supermarkets have improved.

Mr McCornick added: "We will be looking for a significant improvement in availability of home supplies, particularly in Tesco and Asda stores, in the next four weeks when we conduct our next shelfwatch.

“The justification for major retailers to back our farmers goes far deeper than the shop shelf. With climate change remaining at the top of the agenda for the foreseeable future, sourcing local sustainable products such as Scottish or British pork will play a valuable part of the solution. That is something consumers want to see, and supermarkets must deliver.”