Jamie Oliver will take a gentler than expected approach toward the multiples in his crusade to save the British pig industry, The Grocer can reveal.

In Jamie Saves Our Bacon, which airs on 29 January on Channel 4, Oliver does not spare the blushes of Sainsbury's – despite his £1m-a-year contract – criticising the Holborn-based chain and rivals Tesco and Somerfield for their unclear country-of-origin labelling.

But crucially, Oliver does not blame retailers for the demise of the industry.

“The main thrust of the programme is not to attack retailers but to encourage them and consumers to help British pig farmers,” a spokesman for Oliver said.

His softly-softly position will come as a surprise after last year’s chicken documentary, in which Oliver launched an outspoken attack on supermarkets. And last week a Commons Select Committee report criticised retailers for undermining the introduction of animal welfare legislation and failing to support the industry when pigfeed prices soared.

British pig farmers were delighted with Oliver’s stance. “It’s raised all the key areas we wanted raised,” said Barney Kay, general manager at the National Pig Association, although he added: “I think retailers have been given a reasonably easy ride.”

On country-of-origin labelling, Tesco is described as one of the worst offenders. Sainsbury's is also criticised but Oliver then points to a product and says “you can do it, congratulations”. He accuses Somerfield of “treating us like idiots”.

In the studio-based programme, viewed by The Grocer ahead of its broadcast, Morrisons, Waitrose, The Co-op, Sainsbury's and M&S all attended. Asda and Tesco were absent.

Oliver’s approach was epitomised when he asked the retailer representatives if they would push British pork. When they give a positive response, Oliver shouts “round of applause for supermarkets, guys”.