News that ASDA will increase its fresh pork to 80% British by next year has been welcomed by British pig farmers, who face losses of around £150 million in 2016.
The losses come as a result of low prices caused by Europe’s frozen-pork mountain.
ASDA, which accounts for over 16%of the nation’s food and drink sales, also plans to move all its own-brand sausages to British pork by July, in order to improve quality.
National Pig Association (NPA) chief executive Dr Zoe Davies said: “We’ll be discussing milestones over the weeks ahead. But if ASDA moves ahead at a brisk pace, it will help keep the British pig sector relatively intact at a time when real-term prices are at their lowest for 16 years.”
According to the industry’s bi-monthly PorkWatch survey, ASDA has already started its move to replace imported pork with fresh British pork.
The survey shows British fresh pork shelf-facings increased 3% in January compared with November, from 56% to 59%.
NPA chairman Richard Lister said: “We are sure by promoting the quality of British pork, ASDA will grow pork sales across all its stores, particularly as a mid-week convenience food.
“Tangible support like this will encourage our members to stay in production until the price we receive once again covers our costs of production.”
Currently pig prices are at their lowest since 2008, and in real-terms at their lowest since 2000.
The slump, which is now in its second year, is caused by two Russian trade embargoes causing a build-up of European Union pork in cold stores, and the strength of sterling against the euro, making continental imports difficult for some high street retailers to resist.
Only around 40% of pork and pork products consumed in Britain come from British pigs. The most popular cuts (back bacon, chops and steaks, gammon and ham) are under-produced domestically.
Around a quarter of home-produced pork is exported, mainly cuts that are less popular with British consumers.