Retailers came under fire from the Dutch Meat Board this week for "not communicating positive images of the product instore." The allegation came in the DMB's annual market review which declared: "For too long, the retailer has largely ignored the consumer's strong emotional attachment to the product." And the report added: "Nor are there positive images of bacon to be seen in store, so shopping is confusing and dull. The lack of clear differentiation has left shoppers confused." The comments, certain to provoke a major debate among buyers and sellers, come as the bacon industry is discussing ways of increasing sales. DMB md Robert Smith, said: "It sometimes seems the consumer has been forgotten. Understandably the industry is concerned with issues revolving around animal welfare, commercial returns for farmers and the demands of retailers. These are matters of vital importance to all of us, and must not be ignored. But they are by no means our only concern and we focus solely on these issues at our peril." Smith urged a consumer-driven approach to the category: "Let's begin at the fork, not the farm." Having recently completed a comprehensive evaluation of the category with a major UK multiple, he feels the steady decline in bacon's household penetration is not inevitable. "Bacon is as much a key product for shoppers as milk, bread or cheese." Smith's comments looked certain to be picked up at the Danish bacon industry's annual meeting which was being staged in Copenhagen as this issue went to press. Several international players are known to favour a generic campaign to promote the product, but it's believed there is little support for the idea among British producers. l See Provisions, page 27. {{NEWS }}