More than 90% of UK pig and poultry producers expect to pay more for their feed in future years, and over three-quarters foresee difficulties in sourcing certain feed materials because of increased demand for feed commodities.

These were the key findings of an exclusive survey at this year’s Pig and Poultry Fair commissioned by Derbyshire organic feed manufacturer Hi Peak Feeds.

Despite concerns about rising feed costs, the outlook was positive, with 70% of those sampled feeling confident about their future. Only 6% had a pessimistic outlook. Just over half the participants believed it likely they would expand their businesses within the next three years, although on the downside 11% thought they would leave the industry in the next five years.

In assessing protein supply, 40% cited the use of non-GM soya as important to the pig and poultry sectors. And among all respondents – of whom 12% were organically registered – 43% said its use would undermine organic standards and 47% felt it would reduce consumer demand. Interestingly, 14% of conventional producers thought it likely or at least possible they would convert to organic within the next three years.

“The picture given is mixed, but generally there are grounds for optimism,” said Hi Peak Feeds’ managing director Ian Proctor.

“The findings show that producers are thinking and aware of potential future pitfalls. Securing future feed supply is something that has hit home.

“Although only 7% said they had supply-difficulties in the past year, 16% said they had encountered problems with late delivery or only part-delivery of feed.

“From an organic perspective, it seems few have closed the door entirely. But most – over 75% of all producer asked – believe greater financial incentives should be available to encourage more conventional cereal growers to convert to organic. And it should be remembered that the UK is only 30% self-sufficient in organic cereals,” he said.

Of those questioned 36% grew their own cereals, the vast majority of which was used for on-farm consumption.