The British Pig Executive began lobbying retailers this week to improve the quality and consistency of the 'country of origin' information on packs. It also wants them to abandon ambiguous statements such as 'produced in the UK', which it says can be a euphemism for imports.
The move comes after the levy board surveyed nearly 280 products sold at the top nine retailers and found that a disappointing number fell foul of FSA guidance on clear labelling.
It is particularly targeting branded pork and processed pork, which failed to provide specific origin information in 81% of cases, according to FSA research.
Chairman Stewart Houston said more effort should be made to give consumers accurate and easy-to-find information on pork products. "Certainly there are shining examples of retailers who do consistently get it right. But for a retailer to proclaim on the one hand that its own label pork is sourced to UK animal welfare standards but then on the other hand to source imported pork, often produced to lower welfare standards, and sell it under a supplier's brand name smacks of hypocrisy."
He said it was time for the industry to abandon this practice of so-called 'tertiary branding'. "We are also concerned that many well-known national brands fail to provide country of origin information for consumers."
BPEX's survey showed that, while retailers were generally good at providing some specific country of origin information, branded products such as Wall's or Mattessons did so in less than half of cases.
Budgens, Waitrose and M&S topped the survey with the majority of their products clearly labelled, with Sainsbury also above average. Asda languished at the bottom on 47%, followed by Somerfield on 59%.
The findings will be passed on to the FSA, which is in the process of reviewing its guidance on country of origin labelling for food.