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DBMC in Support of 'Jamie Saves Our Bacon'

by 5m Editor
30 January 2009, at 6:53am

DENMARK - Danish Bacon and Meat Council (DBMC) watched ‘Jamie Saves our Bacon’ with interest last night.

DBMC says that the programme, whilst very selective in parts, raised many important issues. However, it is believed that some points on the Danish industry require clarification and, as an overall view, it was felt that the programme portrayed British farmers as on a completely different playing field to farmers in Denmark. The simple facts are that the Danes share most of the challenges of their British counterparts. The key points include:

  • Danish farmers have sympathy with the difficult times the British industry is experiencing. In fact, the two industries face many similar challenges, with the price per pig being less than the cost of production in both countries for most of 2008. Like the UK, Denmark has strict requirements for welfare, safety and environmental standards. Over 1,000 Danish farmers gave up producing pigs during the last year.

  • In several areas, the Danish pig industry is faced with higher standards than its UK counterparts – for example, the requirement in new housing systems for showering facilities for the pigs and special flooring systems. In the area of food safety and the environment, Danish producers have experienced significantly higher costs than the majority of their EU competitors for many years.

  • Denmark, like the UK, is not a low cost producer and prefers to operate in a market environment which gives proper recognition to the maintenance of high standards which have earned it a reputation as a supplier of top quality pork and bacon to Britain for 160 years.

  • The issues raised in the programme in relation to Denmark are all things that DBMC is of course aware of, and already working to resolve. For example, pain relief for the castration of piglets is being introduced this year, and thereby, long term alternatives to eliminate the risk of so-called ‘boar taint’ are being sought.

  • In the case of sow housing, DBMC says Denmark is currently in a transition period between traditional sow stalls and loose sow housing. There has been major progress in recent years and less than 25 per cent of sows in Denmark are currently kept in traditional stalls during their pregnancy. We expect that the vast majority of Danish producers will have stopped using them well in advance of the EU deadline of January 2013.

  • Much of the Danish pork and bacon sold in the UK comes from a special contract (Contract for UK Production) which fully complies with all aspects of UK welfare legislation as well as meeting all the strict Danish requirements regarding welfare, food safety and the environment.

  • The Danish pig industry supports the call for clear and unambiguous labelling of country of origin. DMBC says it is proud of its Danish bacon and would be happy to see all produce labelled as ‘Danish’ at the point of sale.

The editing of the programme implied that the Danish industry wanted to ‘hide’ sow stalls from Jamie Oliver. This was absolutely not the case - there has been openness and honesty with the programme throughout the research and filming process. DBMC took the decision to show Jamie the farms that represented the vast majority of Danish pork and bacon sold in the UK, and have now replaced the majority of traditional sow stalls used in previous years.

Overall, DBMC agrees with a lot of the content of the programme and sympathises with the challenges the British farmers face. Danish farmers have also had to carry significant additional costs due to Danish legislation operating at higher level than their main European competitors.

DBMC says it supports Jamie’s promotion of underused cuts of meat (belly, shoulder and steaks) and hope that his campaign can help to increase the consumption of pork overall. Per capita consumption of pork and pork products in Denmark is twice that of Britain and Danish experiences may provide a helpful template for developing the market here.