With the exception of Parma Ham production in Italy, Britain has the highest average cost of pig production at 111.4p/kg, according to the British Pig Executive.

According to BPEX these costs include a significant amount of depreciation and if this is excluded production costs fall to 96.3p/kg.

Average cost of production in all participating EU countries is quoted at 100.8p, but was 93.8p at the start of the decade.

The average GB Adjusted Deadweight Pig Price for 2004 is quoted at 102.55p leaving a typical producer with a loss of almost 9p/kg deadweight for every pig produced if all depreciation costs are included.

The GB figures also flagged up poor results in terms of mortality, productivity and daily liveweight gain when compared with the European mainland counterparts.

Lower EU mainland welfare standards with the continuing use of intensive systems including stalls/tethers will continue to undercut GB production costs in the future.

The National Pig Association have claimed that unless retailers and caterers are prepared to pay a premium for welfare friendly GB supplied pigmeat, more producers may be forced out of business.

The GB pig herd now accounts for less than 4% of the EU total.

Further contraction in the size of the already depleted domestic herd will lead to rises in imported pigmeat, much of which is still produced at a lower cost of production than in GB.