The British Pig Executive has launched a £10.5m a year campaign to stimulate the domestic pig industry.

Concern over the outlook for the pig sector has lead BPEX to launch a revised version of its “Road to Recovery” strategy first launched in 2002.

Broadly, it is designed to build a competitive and profitable industry which embraces new ideas, anticipates consumer demand and is information driven.

That means it will focus more resources on research and development, improve building design for more efficient finishing, develop hand-held pig weight video imagers to cut stress to the animal, provide financial support for innovation, extend the British Pig Health Scheme Abattoir Monitoring Service and improve standards on boar studs.

Three-quarters of the cost will be met from the BPEX levy, with the balance from the Government, EU and industry.

The June 2005 Pig Census flagged up a 10% year-on-year fall in the size of the national breeding herd, which stood at 463,000 head.

The results of the next census in December will be closely watched with the hope that the 40% drop in the size of the herd over the last eight years will be arrested.

All sectors of the industry, including producers and processors, have suffered from rising levels of cheaper imports, greater costs and bureaucracy.

Any further reduction in the size of the herd, which now only accounts for 3.7% of the EU 25 total, will lead to a greater loss of market share for all concerned.

But prices in 2006 will need to recover from their current level to provide the industry with a realistic return and the confidence to reinvest in worn-out rearing and finishing systems.