Coles extends sow stall ban to imports

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 9th November 2010

Coles today announced an extension of its ban on pork raised in sow stalls to include pork products manufactured overseas.

The move has been welcomed by Australian pork farmers, with the playing field for fresh pork products, processed ham and bacon now levelled between Australian producers and their international counterparts.

“Coles is leading the way by applying its production standards to all its branded processed pork products, regardless of their country of origin,” Australian Pork Limited (APL) CEO, Andrew Spencer said.

“It’s important consumers have a choice in what pork products they purchase. The broadening of Coles’ policy has ensured that this is now available.”

The Australian public has widely supported the move to ban sow stalls, or gestation crates, with Tasmania moving to remove the devices entirely in the next five years, and Western Australia limiting their use. The entire Australian pork industry is debating the future of the use of sow stalls, with the ‘Shaping our Future’ consultation process underway since June this year. The process will culminate in a vote at the November Annual General Meeting of APL.

However, while support for free-range pork is on the rise, research by Australian Pork Limited suggests that most consumers don’t fully understand the labelling practices for pork products, with around 70% of consumers favouring free-range pork, but believing that the terms ‘free range’ and ‘bred free range’ are the same.

In fact, ‘bred free range’ refers to pigs which are allowed to roam free for the first three weeks of their life, but then transferred indoors for intensive farming.

“Consumers don’t actually understand it; they think it’s a type of free range; they think it is really free range,” Spencer told the ABC.

“However, when we explain it to them they don’t feel deceived by the descriptor, so they’re willing to accept it as a good system but not quite what they thought it meant.”