Elaine Watson Pig producers have called on retailers to help tackle the crisis in the British pig industry by clearly distinguishing British pork and bacon instore and only buying pigmeat compliant with minimum UK standards. The call was made at a forum of key players in the pigmeat supply chain hosted by food minister Lord Whitty to thrash out a strategy to restore profitabilty in the industry. Delegates were shown a case study from Asda revealing overall sales of bacon had risen 3% by volume and 7% by value in stores where British bacon was displayed in clearly differentiated Quality Standard Mark (QSM) blocks. The initiative has now been extended to 30 Asda stores and will be rolled out across the estate this year. National Pig Association ceo Stuart Royston said all sides recognised urgent action was necessary to tackle the decline in the UK herd and restore confidence: "If we lose critical mass, it could trigger a knock-on crisis in the arable sector [which supplies pig feed]." He added: "Processors' return on capital is inadequate, producers' is even worse, and even retailers assure us that margins are not great. Something has got to be done." The NPA says retailers should insist on an independently assured audit trail for all pigmeat products offered for sale plus country of origin labelling for pork and pork products. Longer term, the QSM might also be subsumed within the little red tractor British Farm Standard mark to avoid confusion instore. A new report from the NPA proposes that the pig industry should serve as the acid test for Sir Don Curry's vision of a sustainable future for food and farming. Given the industry already complies with Curry's main proposals, including stringent quality assurance, welfare initiatives and a shorter supply chain than other sectors, it ought to be making money, says the report: "If the Curry model fails in the pig industry, it will not work anywhere." {{NEWS }}