17 July 1998

Boycott imports & back pig welfare now, urges BPA

By Jonathan Riley

BRITISH Pig Association chief executive Grenville Welsh has challenged consumers, legislators and pigmeat buyers to back the high welfare demands they put on British producers and stop buying cheaper imports.

Speaking after a crisis meeting with senior MAFF officials to discuss falling pigmeat prices, Mr Welsh said the pig industry was undergoing a massive and possibly irreversible contraction.

He blamed spot prices of 72p/kg on over-production throughout Europe and the effect of the strong £ which had hit exports and increased imports. And, he added, British pig producers had adopted stringent and costly assurance schemes, borne extra costs to comply with welfare legislation and had the extra costs of BSE controls foisted on it by operators further up the chain.

"These extra costs total £46m. But, despite the fact that we now have a food safety and welfare advantage, buyers opt for cheaper imports," said Mr Welsh.

"We believe pig producers are entitled to expect government to play its part in urging the caterers and retailers to recognise the high specification of British pigmeat.

The meeting with MAFF was part of a new five-point BPA strategy which includes a joint approach with the NFU to encourage retailers to differentiate and identify the higher quality British product, and continued discussions with pig marketing groups.

Also within the strategy, the BPA plans to hold meetings with processors and mount a publicity campaign to inform the public about the advantages of British pigmeat.