Thank you for reading the recent Guardian article regarding EU pork. The article is somewhat misleading, certainly the headline. Please let me put the record straight and explain our position.Vicky McNicholas
Why we make our Sausages in Germany
We currently make our Speedy Sausages and Hot Dogs in Germany, and always have done. This is due to a lack of suitable facilities in the UK that are certified as organic and are large enough to manage our volumes. As we do not put preservatives into our sausages, like a standard UK sausage recipe would, we have to pasteurise the product in order to get a long enough shelf life to enable us to get it to market and into peoples homes. The process for this is not common place in the UK as this style of sausage is not common in the UK. So we use a small artisan factory in Germany who specialise in this process. Whilst the food miles this generates is not ideal the overall carbon footprint for using organic product, with reduced waste due to the longer shelf life is certainly a lot lower than using conventional pork processed in the UK.
Where does our pork come from?
We have always used British organic pork in our products. We are a farm based business and use pork from our own farm and from five other organic farms we work with. We will ALWAYS support British farming first. That is at our very core. However at the present time the organic pork market is in turmoil. Supply of organic pigs was reduced by nearly everyone around 18 months ago due to a surplus on the market pushing prices down. This meant farmers reduced the number of pigs they were rearing. Then Covid hit and the demand for organic products has rocketed and now the demand out strips the supply. Unfortunately you cannot just switch more or less pork on or off. It takes time to reduce your herd size down (which was largely achieve around this time last year) and even longer to increase your herd size back up. First you have to rear a gilt (female pig) to adulthood, then wait for that gilt to have a litter of piglets, who need to grow to full size before they can be used. This takes around 18 months in total.
We are currently buying every available organic pig in the UK that we can get our hands on. We are working with all our existing farmers to enable them to increase their herd sizes where they can. I can assure you that we are fully supporting both our own farm and every other farm we work with.
In the meantime in order to meet demand and protect our shelf space at the retailers, and thus ensure there is a market for British Farmers in the future, we are planning to top up our UK supply with EU pork. We have not done this yet and at the moment our sausages are still made with UK pork. We exported 8 tonnes of it last week – a very painful, frustrating and expensive process adding 25p a pack to the cost of production of our goods. This was actually the reason the Guardian were talking to us in the first place. To understand our export experiences. We are still exporting, and will continue to do this when we have product available, despite the excessive new rules and regulations.
So when we do move to EU pork in our sausages it will be to top up the UK supply to meet the increased demand for our organic products. It is not at the expense of our UK farmers, it is to protect the market for our UK farmers so once their supply has increased we still have listing in retailers to utilise their product. When we do move we are being completely transparent about this move, with changes to our packaging highlighting this change.
It is not a perfect solution by any imagination and one this time last year I could never have imagined happening. However we feel this is the best course of action to continue producing an organic product, with the benefits this brings, and protect the market place for future generations of organic pig farmers here in the UK. We are also still looking for opportunities to manufacture in the UK, which has always been the aspiration.
We hope this transparency and pragmatic approach will restore your faith and trust in us as a brand and manufacturer. Our ham, pulled pork, unsmoked bacon, slow cooked ribs, cooking chorizo and fresh pork range all solely utilise UK pork from our own farm and the 5 other farms we are currently working with.
We rely on customers like yourselves continuing to buy our products in order to maintain the market for British Farmers who are working very hard to increase their production to catch up with demand. So I do hope that my explanation will go some way to reassuring you that we feel this is the best way to do that.
Kind regards. Vicky