Almost 50 per cent of Australians have purchased bacon in the past week, but according to new research, most don’t know where it comes from despite growing consumer sentiment to shop local.

Key points:

  • A survey of 1,500 Australian grocery shoppers finds 70 per cent would not buy bacon if they knew it was made with imported pork
  • Imported pork is cheaper than Australian pork, due to decreased food safety and animal welfare standards overseas
  • One small goods manufacturer says it is a challenge to compete with produce made from imported pig meat

Australian Pork Limited CEO Margo Andrae said consumers were unaware that most bacon and other small goods were made from imported meat.

“So only 30 per cent of it is actually utilising Australian home-grown pork and supporting Aussie pork producers.

“Shoppers just assumed that it was Australian — 76 per cent of consumers surveyed — it’s a staggering number and they just didn’t realise.”

Consumers want local produce

Ms Andrae said people were disappointed such a large percentage of ham and bacon was made using imported ingredients.

“We’ve seen a strong increase of people wanting to support home-grown [produce] and they thought they were buying local but actually they weren’t,” she said.

Bacon rashers in deli section

Most bacon and ham products available in supermarkets are made with imported meat.(

ABC News: Bec Whetham

)

“85 per cent of people surveyed said if they’d realised they just needed to pay a little bit more to buy Australian then they would certainly do that.”

Most of the pork imported into Australia is from the United States or Europe.

Mick Nunn, who owns Salt Kitchen Charcuterie in Ballarat, Victoria, said the quality of fresh Australian pork was superior to imported meat.

“We’re really lucky to have farmers that can produce such a high-quality product,” he said.

“I’d really love consumers to be really discerning, look at labels and figure out if it is genuinely a product made from Australian pork.

A man standing in a butcher

Small goods manufacturer Mick Nunn says high-welfare meat is better ethically and for taste. (Picture taken prior to COVID-19 restrictions.)(

Supplied: Mick Nunn

)

“But one positive that has come out of the pandemic is that people have really gravitated towards a locally made product. Our consumers are more engaged.”

Mr Nunn says the pigs he is supplied with have been cared for well by farmers, under high-welfare conditions.

Better labels needed

In total, about 3.35 million kilograms of pork, worth  approximately $13.8 million, is imported every week, according to Ms Andrae.

She said Australian Pork Limited was lobbying for clearer labelling to help customers differentiate between local and imported products.

Australian Pork label

All products with the Australian Pork logo are from locally grown pigs.(

ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh

)

“Most people believe when they see the green triangle with the yellow kangaroo that they’re buying Australian, but consumers actually need to read the bar chart underneath,” Ms Andrae said.

“We’ve been working very closely with government to raise awareness, but our next step is to [see] what other options we have to make sure there is truth in labelling.”

All fresh pork in Australia is home-grown and consumers could rest easy when buying products like roasts, chops or loin cuts, Ms Andrae said.

Roast pork on a wooden tray on an outside table with other food.

All fresh pork in Australia is locally grown.(

Unsplash: Jez Timms

)

“You can be guaranteed the fresh pork you are buying is all Australian, and to be even more certain you can look for the pink Australian Pork logo.”

Why import so much?

Despite approximately 70 per cent of Australian agricultural commodities being exported to other countries, Ms Andrae said only 10 per cent of the country’s pork was exported, mostly to Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan.

“We’re not a huge exporter. Most of our production is grown for Australian consumption,” she said.

“But we’ve had a reliance on imported pork, probably over the past decade, originally because of price.

Pigs in an Australian piggery looking at the camera.

Australian-grown pigs have higher welfare standards than most pigs farmed overseas.(

ABC Rural: Tom Edwards

)

But African Swine Fever (ASF) spreading through countries like China was changing the game, Ms Andrae said, along with consumer sentiment to buy local.

“There has been a massive change to pork protein globally with about 30 per cent gone due to that terrible virus, so we’re seeing the price slightly change.”

Posted , updated 

The average Aussie eats six kilos of bacon every year, but where does it come from?
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