This year retailers have taken to heart the criticism being hurled at their bacon fixtures and have been busily overhauling them. Waitrose says it has been improved by continual rationalisation and regeneration of the product mix. Its best sellers are bag pack bacon which gives better value and speciality cures offering a more diverse choice. New for Christmas are decorated gammon joints. Since May Somerfield has displayed its bacon and sausages within the fresh meat department. The results, it says, have been outstanding and along with the successful Megadeal campaign sales are up 14% year on year. In May/June 2002 it plans to redesign the labels on all fresh bacon lines. It is also developing a So Good range of cured bacons which will be sourced from British pigs. The Co-operative Group has also decided to move its bacon lines into the fresh meat and poultry fixture. This year the group has also used branded packs of unsmoked back rashers on a bogof basis to drive sales. "Our best selling product is Co-op 250g unsmoked rindless back rashers . Our newest product innovation this year has been the introduction of Co-op microwaveable back bacon rashers. This is a six rasher 125g pack aimed particularly at convenience," says Paul Dumbrell, category buyer. To simplify the fixture the group aims to have Co-op brand, including British, supported by the major brands. In England it would be supported by Danepak, in Scotland by Tulip, and in Northern Ireland, when it is able to export, by Denny. Safeway has repackaged its range and designed a new label. Category buyer Joanna Legg says: "The previous labels had far too much on them. In the last few weeks we've also simplified the merchandising, and reduced the duplication. Rather than having a number of different rasher counts, we've clearly defined the standard eight or 16 packs and tried to remove all the 10s. However we do have a six rasher pack of thick cut." In Safeway's Best range, there are five products: a premium maple cure using real maple syrup, a smoked and unsmoked dry cure, and a smoked and unsmoked traditional Wiltshire cure. The latter is a traditional one produced by Case & Sons, now part of Grampian, which says Legg is the jewel in their crown. "Our bestseller in own label is the 200g eight rasher pack. But the other big driver is one within the promotional programme we use which is a hero line ­ a 400g Roach twin-pack standard back rasher." New in December under the Best brand is a hand decorated apricot and rosemary gammon joint, and a spiced honey, traditionally hand diamond scored top gammon retailing for £15.99 and £8.99 respectively. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}