The European Commission has published its Farm to Fork strategy, aiming to make food systems fair and sustainable. The strategy also considers options for animal welfare labelling to raise animal welfare standards, emphasizing that using labelling to link production to consumer demand can enhance opportunities for farmers. Because private pork labels have already proliferated in recent years, Connecting Agri&Food provides an overview of existing pork labels in major pig producing countries. Labels are an opportunity for the European Commission to implement their Farm to Fork strategy more quickly.
Almost all pork labels in The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom include standards on stocking density, outdoor access, and alternatives to castration. A few labels include standards for the prevention of tail docking or animal transport. Some labels have also included other quality attributes e.g. taste, non-GMO, no antibiotics, or CO2-footprint (download pdf below). Most labels are intended for the domestic market, either for exclusive niche segments, for major retail formulas or out of home markets. The labels for niche market segments often include standards on outdoor access. A few labels (e.g. Initiative Tierwohl and Bienestar Animal Certificado Welfair) are based on a system with points, whereby farmers have some choice options to substitute one animal welfare aspect for another.
The consumer price for labelled products in major retail formulas is usually between the price for mainstream products and organic products, the farmer receiving a compensation for added cost of up to 5-7% of total production cost. A further increase of the financial compensation is difficult, as retail organizations are reluctant to increase consumer prices of labelled pork products, and therefore try to focus on reducing failure cost elsewehere in the pork supply chain. The product pricing within pork labels is further complicated by the increasing number of pork products that is not recognizable as one, on the store shelf, thus limiting the potential benefit of adding value to pig production.
Implementation pork labels
Aligning the Farm to Fork strategy with existing private pork labels can be attractive. Pig farmers are stimulated most by market actors making it attractive to couple EU labels with private labels, preferably via an integrated points system. A potential benefit for governments is the reduction of the administrative burdens of certification and auditing. To effectively encourage farmers to produce under higher animal welfare standards, pork products with higher standards must generate more added value. However, the equitable distribution of costs and returns across segments in the pork supply chain is posing and will pose important challenges.
Download overview pork labels
Download the overview of pork labels here. More information about pork labels can also be downloaded in pdf.