19 January 2001

Germans go off their sausages

CRISIS management of mad cow disease in Germany is having a serious knock-on effect on other meat markets, particularly pork.

As reported in last weeks FARMERS WEEKLY, UK pig prices are under pressure with the sow market worst hit as German consumers turn their backs on traditional sausages, regarded as one of the nations hallmark foods. In response UK sow prices plummeted to just 29p/kg last Friday, down 14p/kg on the week.

Inevitably this has shaken the pork market, with manufactured and processed meat being particularly hard hit.

"The public on the Continent has lost confidence in its agricultural bodies," said EE Pilgrims Ray Pilgrim. "We must acknowledge that Germany is the major pork manufacturing country in Europe. It takes sows literally from everywhere in the EU. That market has been destroyed overnight."

Pilgrims was forced to cancel almost two-thirds of its kill last week, slaughtering on just two days, and this is already having repercussions on UK pig producers.

Norfolk pig farmer Neville Kemp explained: "The main problem is we are being hit from all sides. We have suffered three years of low prices; swine fever in East Anglia; and producers just dont have the ability to recover.

"This isnt financially crippling, but its impossible to organise and plan your business to keep on top of things. Many people are looking at the outgoers scheme seriously – morale is very low," he said.

With swine fever at last under control, disease fears may have receded, but apparently cases of PDNS and PWMS are increasing.

Unofficial reports reckon most herds in East Anglia are affected to some degree, with the worst hit herds experiencing levels as high as 25%. The disease is also said to be spreading north in to Yorkshire, which had previously been relatively free. &#42