Almost 50% of Australians have bought bacon in the past week, but new research shows most don’t know where it’s coming from despite growing consumer sentiment to buy local.
- Survey of 1,500 Australian grocery shoppers finds 70% wouldn’t buy bacon if they knew it was made with imported pork
- Imported pork is cheaper than Australian pork, due to declining food safety and animal welfare standards abroad
- Small commodity maker says it’s hard to compete with products made from imported pork
Australian Pork Limited CEO Margo Andrae said consumers were unaware that most bacon and other small items were made from imported meat.
“So only 30% of them are using locally grown Australian pork and supporting Australian pork producers.
“Buyers just assumed it was Australia – 76% of consumers surveyed – that’s a staggering number and they didn’t realize it.”
Consumers want local products
Ms Andrae said people were disappointed that such a high percentage of ham and bacon was made from imported ingredients.
“We have seen a sharp increase in the number of people wanting to support [produce] and they thought they were buying local, but in fact they weren’t, ”she said.
“85% of those surveyed said if they realized they just needed to pay a little more to buy Australian they definitely would.”
Most of the pork imported into Australia comes from the United States or Europe.
Mick Nunn, owner of Salt Kitchen Charcuterie in Ballarat, Victoria, said the quality of fresh Australian pork is superior to imported meat.
“We are really lucky to have farmers who are able to produce such a quality product,” he said.
“I would really like consumers to be very picky, look at the labels and find out if this is really an Australian pork product.
“But one positive thing that has come out of the pandemic is that people have really turned to a locally produced product. Our consumers are more engaged.”
Mr. Nunn says that the pigs supplied to him have been well cared for by the farmers, under high welfare conditions.
Better labels needed
In total, about 3.35 million kilograms of pork, worth about $ 13.8 million, are imported each week, according to Andrae.
She said Australian Pork Limited was pushing for clearer labeling to help customers differentiate local from imported products.
“Most people believe when they see the green triangle with the yellow kangaroo they buy from Australia, but consumers actually have to read the bar graph below,” Ms. Andrae said.
“We have worked closely with the government to raise awareness, but our next step is to [see] what other options we have to make sure there is some truth in the labeling. “
All of the fresh pork in Australia is grown locally and consumers can rest easy when shopping for items like roasts, chops or loin cuts, Ms Andrae said.
“You can rest assured that the fresh pork you buy is completely Australian, and to be even safer you can look for the pink Australian Pork logo.”
Why import so much?
Although around 70% of Australia’s agricultural products are exported to other countries, Ms Andrae said only 10% of the country’s pork is exported, mainly to Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan.
“We are not a big exporter. Most of our production is for Australian consumption,” she said.
“But we used imported pork, probably over the last decade, originally because of the price.
But the African swine fever (ASF) that is spreading in countries like China is a game-changer, Ms Andrae said, as well as consumers’ sentiment to buy local.
“There has been a massive change in pork protein around the world with around 30% gone due to this terrible virus, so we are seeing the price change slightly.”