Clive Beddall International suppliers have reacted angrily to an "inflammatory" opening advertisement in the Meat and Livestock Commission's new £4.6m promotional campaign for pigmeat. As The Grocer went to press, Dutch and Danish marketing groups accused their British counterparts of inflaming the animal welfare debate with "xenophobic advertising". At the centre of the row was an ad, which began appearing in the national press on Thursday, telling consumers that "in many parts of the world" pregnant sows spend most of their lives either tethered by the neck or in tiny stalls, unable to turn around and with about 18 inches to walk back and forth. In addition, said the ad, they can be fed a diet containing meat and bone meal which partly consists of offal, bones and other animal parts. British pork bacon and ham, on the other hand, carried the new Quality Mark, which ensured good living conditions and vegetable based feed. The MLC defended the ad as aimed at focusing shoppers' minds on animal welfare issues a strategy it claimed was determined by market research among consumers. Its manager for pigmeat, Chris Lukehurst, said: "It is a thought provoking advertisement.The aim is to make people sit up and take notice and it will be followed by softer advertisements in the next phase of the campaign." However, The Grocer understands the new British campaign was causing controversy even before this week's launch. Several multiples are believed to have protested that another possible ad under consideration for the campaign, which showed a sow and piglets under the headline After she's fed them, she could be fed to them' was too controversial. But a leading UK pigmeat industry figure told The Grocer on Thursday: "Our industry is in dire straits. We've invested heavily in animal welfare and we want to get that point across. These days, you have to shock consumers to get them to sit up and take notice." However, an incensed Danish Bacon and Meat Council marketing director John Howard said: "Denmark, in all likelihood, is the country of origin most consumers are likely to think of when they see the new advertisements. "In 1997, following discussions with leading British retailers, the Danes introduced a special contract for the production of pigs for the UK market. "These pigs conform to ALL of the specific criteria imposed on the British pigmeat industry in respect of confinement free systems for pregnant sows and the removal of meat and bonemeal from feed. "The ad is deeply misconceived and will serve only to confuse and worry consumers. At a time when pig farmers across Europe are starting to see signs of recovery, the last thing they need is this kind of narrow and negative campaigning." Robert Smith, managing director, Dutch Meat Board (UK), said: "This is a kick in the teeth to all manufacturers and major retailers alike. The public need to be confident that it is safe to eat pork, ham and bacon. These new ads undermine that confidence and will hit sales. "The market needs support, not scares. The Dutch are proud of the quality systems they employ throughout the production chain. Dutch legislation has banned stalls and tethers, and meat and bone meal free product is being delivered to the UK." - See Opinion, p18, and Marketing, p50. {{NEWS }}