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Survey exposes gulf in Sainsbury's and Asda pork sourcing policies

2nd May 2018 / By Alistair Driver

There are a couple of big questions for pig producers arising immediately from the Sainsbury’s-Asda deal.

Asda Sainsburys2The first concerns price. Sainsbury’s is promising consumers that the deal will enable it to cut prices on key products by 10%. The intention is to make some efficiency cost savings through eliminating duplication and other benefits of scale, but Sainsbury’s is insisting there will be no store closures or job cuts.

So if it is to deliver 10% price cuts, something else will have give, it seems. Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe is in no doubt that he’s ‘In the Money’. But will its suppliers, including those at the ‘coal face’ of primary production, be out of it?

British sourcing?

Another big question is around sourcing policies. Although it ditched using the Red Tractor logo on pack a few years ago, Sainsbury’s has generally been a good supporter of British farmers – and has tried to make this part of its marketing pitch to customers.

Asda, less so – and its record on sourcing British pork, in particular, is appalling. The latest figures from AHDB’s latest bi-monthly Porkwatch survey highlight these differences.

Sainsbury’s made the greatest strides of any retailer in the March survey, leading a big increase in the overall proportion of British bacon on the shelves of UK supermarkets.

The proportion of British bacon in Sainsbury’s stores increased to 62% in March from just 43% in January and 37% a year ago. This increase was reflected across the majority of stores audited, with three-quarters having more British bacon that non-British.

Sainsbury’s also scored 100% for pork, 94% for ham and 82% for sausage, making it the best of the 'big 4' (as they still are for now) when it comes to sourcing its pork from the UK, with Morrisons not far behind.

In contrast, Asda was rock bottom among the 10 retailers surveyed, its customary position. This has been the story for some time – in fact, only Tesco comes anywhere close in terms of the proportion of imported pig meat products on its shelves.

The March survey showed Asda stocked just 21% British bacon, down from 30% in January. It also posted the lowest figures for pork, 44%, and ham, 36%, while its figure of 76% for sausage was the only one that compared with other retailers.

Across all categories, that is a lot of imported pigmeat.

Other Porkwatch highlights

  • porkwatch logoAcross the 10 retailers surveyed, 51% of bacon on display in March was British, compared with 49% in January and 44% in March 2017.
  • Significant gains on bacon were also recorded by Tesco, Lidl and, year-on-year, the Co-op, which remains at 100% for bacon.
  • The overall figures for the other categories were largely unchanged, with pork at 79%, ham 66% and sausage 84%.
  • Waitrose, M&S and the Co-op were the best performers across all four categories.
  • All retailers except Asda and Tesco (66%) scored 100% on pork.

NPA view

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “The latest Porkwatch survey highlights the vast difference in the approach of the two retailers to sourcing pigmeat.

“Sainsbury’s has, among the ‘big 4’, generally been a strong supporter of the British pig industry, whereas Asda has not. These latest Porkwatch figures only reinforce that.

“Our hope, if this deal goes through, is that Sainsbury’s brings Asda closer to its sourcing standards, rather than Asda dragging Sainsbury’s down, although comments on savings across the board don’t exactly fill us with confidence.

“We will keep a close eye on how this consolidation in the supply chain will affect competitiveness among buyers and prices for primary producers.”

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