IFA President Tim Cullinan said it’s very concerning that more than one in three pork products in the Irish foodservice sector doesn’t come from Irish pigmeat.
The results of the Irish Foodservice DNA Verified Survey for 2022, launched in the Irish Farm Centre today, indicate a clear gap between the support that retailers show for the Irish pig sector (97%) compared to that of foodservice, where 39% of their pork products tested as non-assigned for Irish pigmeat.
“Irish foodservice is not supporting the Irish pigmeat sector. They must now come forward and close the gap on the benchmark which Irish retailers have set,” Tim Cullinan said.
“The Irish pig sector continues to experience turbulent times, and the results of this survey highlight where the support must come from to help pig farms overcome the 18 months of decline in price,” he said.
With 582 samples tested across 2022, over one quarter of the samples tested as non-assignments of Irish pigmeat. 181 samples were tested from retailers, with 97% of those samples coming back as assignments of Irish pigmeat.
The remaining 401 samples were tested from the Irish foodservice, which included 34 individual outlets. It’s estimated that these companies have a combined reach of 2,600 locations nationwide.
In late 2021, the IFA National Pigs Committee, led by the Chair Roy Gallie, initiated a ‘farmer-led DNA testing scheme’ of the foodservice sector. The purpose of this testing was to indicate areas of foodservice that had room to improve.
“While this is just year one verified testing, the results of the have confirmed our suspicions that the foodservice sector is not supportive of Irish product,” Roy Gallie said.
The survey also showed the breakdown of pork products being offered by the foodservice outlets and how they ranked, with premium cuts of pork testing the best at 85%. Ham came in next at 65%, with typical breakfast products such as rashers and bacon testing at only 55%.
“Some results have identified cases where businesses advertise product as Irish, but when tested, this is proven to be false and this is hugely disappointing. These companies are marketing themselves off the back of the high-standards of production which Irish pig farms hold, and for them to undermine that label is unacceptable,” Roy Gallie stated.
“We have written to a number of businesses on the matter and have plans to further increase the testing over the coming weeks and months,” he said.
Bord Bia’s Irish Foodservice 2022 Report indicates that foodservice is expected to grow over 11% in value in 2023. The report also highlighted that circa 60% of adults want to have an offering of food that is locally sourced/produced available to them.
“It is important that we engage with foodservice businesses now to raise the concerns of Irish pig farmers and highlight the glaring differences between the retail and foodservice figures. In doing so, we want to encourage the procurement of Irish pigmeat products within the foodservice sector to help bridge this gap, and would ask that businesses make a conscious effort to buy Irish,” Roy Gallie said.