The industry agreed a voluntary new labelling code of practice this week under which retail packs containing non-British pork can no longer be labelled as 'Produced in Britain' simply because they are packed here.
Instead, they will carry claims such as: 'Produced in Britain using pork from Germany', 'Made in the UK using Dutch and Danish pork' or 'Packed in the UK using pork from Denmark'.
Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, The Co-operative Group, M&S and Waitrose are among the companies to have already signed up to the code. The first changes should be seen in-store from April, with all packs set to switch by the end of the year.
"I expect all major retailers to sign up and join those who have already decided to end the confusion for shoppers," said Defra Secretary of State Hilary Benn. "If they don't, their customers should ask them why they're not in favour of clear, honest labelling."
The landmark code has been developed by the Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force and will initially apply to fresh and frozen pork, bacon, gammon, ham, sausages and pork pies. Further guidelines cover the foodservice sector and the use of breed names, as well as definitions for production methods. The code is expected to be later extended to other processed products and ready meals where pork is a major constituent.
The code will be self-policed by the industry and Bpex is due to publish a 'good labelling' review at the end of this year. There will also be a consumer website showing which companies are backing it.
"Clear labelling is great news for everyone in the supply chain [and means] easier choice for consumers, more sales of British pork products for the retailer, and benefits both the producer and processor," said Bpex and NPA chairman Stewart Houston.