European politicians have agreed emergency action to take pork off the market and support plunging prices.
The European Commission will next week open private storage aid for pigmeat, paying processors to keep some pork cuts in store for up to 150 days.
The move could help ease the oversupply caused by high pigmeat production and Russia’s ban on EU food imports.
Average EU pig prices have fallen from just under 140p/kg in June 2014 to 100p/kg two weeks ago.
Farmers’ gross margins are more than 15% below the historical average and many have been losing money for months, the commission said.
EU farm commissioner Phil Hogan, who previously ruled out emergency action, said private storage aid was the most effective tool available.
“This measure will remove a considerable volume of product from the market, which should have the effect of putting a floor under the market, stabilising the financial situation of farmers and should enable the market to recover by stimulating the fragile recovery in prices,” he said.
British pig prices have also suffered from the high European supplies, though good supermarket support and strong welfare standards have provided some insulation.
The standard pigs price dropped from 164p/kg in May 2014 to 133.95p/kg in the week ending 21 February.
Antonio Tavares, pigmeat working party chair for European farm union Copa-Cogeca, said he supported the commission’s decision.
“I believe it will help to improve the market situation until new market outlets for the produce have been found,” he said. “It will have a positive price impact.”
Mr Tavares added Copa-Cogeca would work with the commission to look at more measures like finding other uses for fat, finding new markets and promotional schemes.