Diners keep up demand for pork

A A A

Farmers' fears of a consumer boycott of pork are proving unfounded as sales and consumption stay steady despite the swine fever outbreak. Supermarkets and fashionable up-market restaurants specialising in pork dishes yesterday said customers had been persuaded by the Ministry of Agriculture that no danger existed for people eating pork.

Farmers' fears of a consumer boycott of pork are proving unfounded as sales and consumption stay steady despite the swine fever outbreak. Supermarkets and fashionable up-market restaurants specialising in pork dishes yesterday said customers had been persuaded by the Ministry of Agriculture that no danger existed for people eating pork.

Sales of pig products have been unaffected despite a week of alarmist headlines and import bans by the EU, the US and several other countries. And veterinary scientists say they are confident that the outbreak of swine fever is unlikely to spread beyond East Anglia, Cheshire and Derbyshire.

Sainsburys, which sells more than half a million pork chops each week, has reported "no detectable difference" in sales over the past two weeks. Tesco also said there had been "no noticeable impact [on sales] so far".

Restaurants specialising in pork - in particular leaner cuts developed for modern tastes in recent years - are thriving. With autumn on the way, suckling pig is finding its way back onto top-quality menus.

At St John, a north London restaurant in the Clerkenwell district - emblem, the butcher's diagrammatic pig marked by the lines of cuts - Tom Blythe, the general manager, described high-grade pork as growing in popularity and as "uniquely, a toe-to-tail eating experience". He also detectedno fall in demand. "Pork is one of the products for which we are known. We don't specialise in suckling pig, but we are more than happy to provide it."

At Heathcote's restaurant, in Longridge, Lancashire, the respected chef and proprietor, Paul Heathcote, said the story was much the same. His manager, Alan Holmes, yesterday said: "There has been no downturn in demand. We use a small, family owned firm that specialises in porchetta and suckling pig, and with the summer drawing to an end demand is expected to increase. Suckling pig is at its best in the autumn - the animals have matured but still have that bit of fat on them that keeps the meat moist."

For pig producers, the slaughter programme ordered by the Government, the quarantine restrictions and the import bans from Europe and the US, are another setback. The industry was already in the doldrums from falling support prices and, as some saw it, the burden of providing standards of farm animal welfare seen to be far above those applied elsewhere in the EU.

Steve Allen, a director Of Central Pork Packers of Nottingham, said he was worried by the spate of import bans, especially those that had been imposed by the US on spare ribs, for which there had been a ready market. But, domestically, there had been little change, he said.

"Demand from supermarkets is typical for the time of year," he said. "It looks as if consumers accept the fact that swine fever is not a threat to their health. The last thing the industry needs is for consumption to go down."

In Suffolk, closer to the heart of the present outbreak, Trevor Carter, of Grampian Pork, told the Independent on Sunday that producers were starting to see the effect on their longer-term prospects of the slaughter programme.

"There is a measured optimism about," said Mr Carter. "This will turn to a broad smile when tests [for the disease] start to come out negative. Measures taken by the Government and the industry have been extremely well handled and there is nothing to report on the consumer front. It does appear at the moment that the industry has done an excellent job in containing this outbreak and in preventing an epidemic."

Ministry officials this week shared that view. "The message has come across loud and clear that this disease has been contained and is non-infective to humans. There is no danger to humans at all and there has been no downturn in demand."

As for the suggestion that the source of the outbreak, which is still being investigated by scientists, might be associated with Asian wild boars that have been imported to Germany and England, the ministry was firm in its rejection. "The wild boar is a complete red herring," a spokesman said.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission, Benefits, OTE £100k: SThree: ...

Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

£32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

£27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine