Danish pork producers are signing up to a demanding 'UK contract' to defend their share of the British market.

The move has been fuelled by criticism this side of the North Sea over lower Danish welfare standards. BPEX claims that 70% of imported pork would be illegal to produce in the UK.

But the Danes insist their production standards are among the highest in the world and point out that their environmental legislation is much stricter than in the UK. "We can all parade areas where we've had to incur extra costs - Britain is not alone in that respect. The UK contract is compliant with every nuance of UK legislation," said John Howard of the Danish Bacon and Meat Council. That means pregnant sows are housed in groups, floors are only part-slatted, there is no animal fat in the feed and stalls and tethers are not used.

The UK contract covers 13% of Danish producers - enough to supply retailers but not foodservice.