Retailers need to recognise the dire situation pig farmers are facing before the industry is destroyed, according to Waitrose supermarket.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly at the launch of the supermarket’s Save Our Bacon campaign in London this week, managing director Mark Price said retailers needed to follow Waitrose’s lead by offering pig farmers a fair price for their animals.

“It’s a real worry that pig farmers are dropping out of the industry,” he said. “If people want the countryside we have and excellent quality meat to eat, then we need British farmers.

“It would be a very bad step for Britain to become more dependent on imports, but unless pig farmers receive more money for their produce, we are in very real danger of that happening.”

Support

Mr Price said British farmers weren’t on a “level playing field” with other farmers in Europe as British pork was produced to higher quality standards, costing them an additional £7/animal compared to other countries.

”Our government isn’t as supportive to farmers either, so it rests on retailers to offer support because we will regret it otherwise.

“I really hope other retailers will follow our lead in paying fair prices and encouraging dedicated supply chains.

“If we can encourage this and persuade British consumers to buy more British pork then this campaign will be very important.”

Courage

Stewart Houston, National Pig Executive director, said the Waitrose campaign was the first occasion a supermarket had “taken the courage” to act on behalf of farmers.

“If we can continue to raise awareness and encourage shoppers to ask retailers why they are not supporting the British pig industry then we can save it from extinction,” he said.

“The situation the industry is in at the moment is very, very serious. We have been losing £20-26/animal for over six months, and not many people’s bank balance can stand that.

“It also stops us from investing in improving our stock and herd to help meet the requirements of the consumers.

“I think this campaign will make a big difference. To see something like this happening gives pig producers encouragement that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”