January 21, 2013
The Victorian Farmers Federation has called on Coles to ensure all of its imported pork products are sow stall free, following the announcement that their home brand pork, bacon and ham products are sow stall free. Sow stalls, used to confine a pregnant pig during pregnancy, are being phased out in Australia following a pig industry vote in 2010, but European countries that trade with Australia can use sow stalls for up to 25 per cent of a sow’s pregnancy. VFF Pig group president John Bourke said it was unfair to the consumer to have sow stall and non-sow stall produce on supermarket shelves. “There can’t be one rule for domestic produce and another rule for all other imports. We want the same sow stall free rules for all local and imported produce, home brand and non-home brand,” Mr Bourke said. Market figures released by Australian Pork show that in 2011-12, 28.2 per cent of Australian pork imports came from Denmark – a country Coles openly sources produce from. “Almost all the bacon is coming from Denmark and they are still allowed to use sow stalls for four weeks, so that’s not a sow stall ban,” Mr Bourke said. Australian Pork figures also show that a large majority of Australian pork imports for 2011-12 came from countries without comprehensive sow stall bans. While Coles’ decision is a step in the right direction Mr Bourke encouraged the supermarket to develop a consistent policy on domestic and imported pork products. “Coles have said they are talking about their home brand products but home brand is only a small percentage of Coles’ pork sales,” Mr Bourke said. Another area that produces inconsistency in trade is Coles’ quality assurance program, Mr Bourke says. “Coles’ quality assurance program appears to be based on UK standards, it doesn’t reference Australian conditions or Australian vets,” Mr Bourke said. “The program makes it tough for Australian producers and has a knock on effect on production figures. Domestic producers have to battle against imports that don’t have obstructive quality assurance programs and are allowed to use sow stalls.” Mr Bourke would welcome a discussion with Coles to assess what quality assurance program and conditions are best for domestic producers.