Mystery pork leaves Australian shoppers in the dark

World Animal Protection

The Australian Government is leaving shoppers in the dark when it comes to the pork products on our shelves, so World Animal Protection has launched a campaign calling for greater transparency, not only for the sake of mother pigs, but for Australian farmers too.

Current country of origin labelling laws allow companies to completely omit which country imported ham and bacon is from, and Australians are unaware of the ramifications.

Research reveals that of Australians who shop for pork at the supermarket, 91% believe the pork products on the shelves are either mostly or all Australian farmed*, but this is not the case.

While the fresh pork on our shelves is Australian, most of our processed pork – such ham and bacon – is imported from Europe or North America, with the United States (U.S.) making up around 50% of total imports. This figure has doubled in the last five years.

This is concerning, as the standards in the U.S. are worse than those in Australia across a number of issues. Most mother pigs in the U.S. are kept in sow stalls (cages) for the length of their pregnancy, while on the other hand, the Australian industry is working towards a sow stall phase out in response to consumer sentiment. 

Mother pigs kept in sow stalls have no room to turn around or lie down comfortably, and in factory farming systems they’re quickly re-impregnated, meaning they spend most of their lives this way, which leads to physical and psychological suffering.

Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection, Ben Pearson said:

“Australian consumers deserve to know where their food comes from, yet the origin of most processed pork products is a mystery.

“The Government’s current review of country of origin labels needs to include a new requirement that tells us which country the actual pork comes from.

The welfare of mother pigs isn’t the only reason proper labelling is important – hygiene and antibiotic use are also huge concerns in U.S. pork farms and production facilities.

“Shoppers shouldn’t be kept in the dark, and clearer pork labels will allow them to support the higher animal welfare standards being promoted by most Australian pig farmers.”

More Australian shoppers are trying to buy local than this time 12 months ago[1], and with many Australians (39%) eating pork more than twice a week, country of origin information will help shoppers who are trying to support Australian pig farmers.

Some retailers, like Coles and Primo, do provide more information about the country of origin of the pork, but most don’t.

World Animal Protection is encouraging those who choose to buy pork products to check the labels for a country of origin when they’re at the supermarket.

In the case of processed ham and bacon, consumers should avoid products imported from the U.S. and look for higher welfare Australian or European options.


Shoppers can get involved and call on the Australian Government to stop keeping pork products a mystery by signing the petition on World Animal Protection’s website. 

*Research conducted by Pure Profile (December 2019), who surveyed 1,000 Australians population proportionate to each state/territory. Statistics are rounded to closest whole percent. 

About World Animal Protection:

World Animal Protection has moved the world to protect animals for more than 50 years.

The organisation’s activities include working with companies to ensure high standards of welfare for the animals in their care, working with governments and other stakeholders to prevent wild animals being cruelly traded, trapped or killed, and saving the lives of animals and the livelihoods of the people who depend on them in disaster situations.

World Animal Protection influences decision makers to put animals on the global agenda, and it inspires people to protect animals and to change animals’ lives for the better.

[1] Dynatel Mintel, Australian consumer polling 2018, 2019, 2020.

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