|UK: Supermarkets criticised
for organic pork imports
11 Apr 2005
UK Supermarkets import a much higher proportion of organic
pork than is the case with conventional supplies, according
to organic food lobby group the Soil Association.
According to a survey done by the association, a fifth
of fresh organic pork available in Asda and Morrisons
was from UK farms. On average, 95% of non-organic fresh
pork sold is from the UK. Half of the organic beef and
pork from Tesco was imported. The beef was mainly from
Argentina and Australia and the pork was from Denmark.
In the association’s survey, over 1,200 shoppers
around England, Scotland and Wales visited their local
supermarkets to find out what percentage of staple organic
vegetables and meat on sale were produced in the UK.
All these products were in season at the time and readily
available from UK organic farmers, the Soil Association
This is the second year that the Soil Association has
undertaken this survey.
Overall, the amount of organic food sourced from UK
farmers rose from 72% in 2003 to 76% in 2004 for the
eight products surveyed. But, as with last year's findings,
the results show a mixed picture, with significant variations
between products, and retailers.
Last year's survey highlighted onions as a real issue
and the supermarkets have listened, the association
said. The amount of UK organic onions was nearly 20%
higher this year than last. Last year only 38% of organic
onions were from the UK and this has now risen to 55%.
Significant improvements have been made by Waitrose,
Tesco and the Co-op, it said
There had been increases in the proportion of potatoes
from UK sources. Marks & Spencer increased the level
of UK organic potatoes from 58% to 82%. Nearly all of
Asda's organic potatoes (94%) compared with their previous
74 per cent. The Co-op has shot to the top of the league
with a 100% record in potatoes, compared to 87% in last
year's survey, the association said.
Imports of organic apples have increased by 5%. The
Soil Association is urging shoppers to support the major
retailers who give preference to homegrown produce.
Somerfield had no UK organic apples in stock, and nearly
all the apples in Asda, Morrisons and the Co-op were
imported. Overall, only a quarter of organic apples
on sale were from the UK, with supermarkets choosing
fruit from New Zealand, USA and Italy instead.
The Soil Association found that 100% UK sourcing for
most products is possible. Most of the organic pork
in Sainsbury's and Waitrose was UK. Nearly all the organic
beef in Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury's
was UK. High levels of home produced chicken, lamb,
potatoes and carrots were achieved by most supermarkets.
Waitrose achieved the best results overall, with 86%
UK sourcing across the eight products. It is also alone
among the major retailers in selling both chicken and
eggs produced to the Soil Association's higher animal
“It is unacceptable for staple food to be imported
when it is in season in the UK, and in plentiful supply,”
said Peter Melchett, the Soil Association's Policy Director.
“Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer
are shining examples to the other supermarkets that
are still letting down their customers and UK organic
farmers by comparison. Tesco accounts for around 30%
of all the organic food sold in the UK and their beef
and pork buyers could do much more to support organic
farmers in this country.”