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‘Bringing home the bacon…’

In comparison with Denmark, a new report identified a ‘dysfunctional’ pig meat supply chain in Britain, frequently exploited by the larger supermarkets.

A recently published report 'Bringing Home the Bacon' identified the Danish pig meat co-operative model as "ensuring stable supplies, homogeneous quality and generally consistent implementation of changes when required".
 
The report was produced by the Centre for Research and Socio-Cultural Change and was jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Vion. Its purpose was to identify areas for strengthening the UK pig meat supply chain. It spoke of the "prolonged and unresolved crisis" in the UK pig industry and government's failure to recognise "the pathology and dysfunction of the pig meat supply chain".

It also found fault with the opportunistic "trader mentality" of the large supermarkets, which left the domestic industry unduly exposed to overseas competition and required urgent action by government.

In urging the adoption of the more ‘integrated and consolidated’ models of the Danes and the Dutch, the report made a series of recommendations, including ‘fiscal benefits’ for retailers who established "chain connection" to priority sectors, such as the pig industry, along the lines of Morrisons and their Farmers Boy processing operations.

They also proposed that the powers of the new Grocery Code Adjudicator should be increased, as well as encouraging a ‘national debate’ about regionalisation of the large national retail chains. They also suggested that there should be a requirement for supermarkets to set aside dedicated counter space for local produce, as well as more financial support to assist development of farmers’ co-operatives

The report had a fairly sympathetic reception from farming interests but a mainly sceptical reaction from processors and retailers, naturally opposed to the proposed scale of government intervention.

A copy of the full report can be accessed here.