19 May 1995

Low cost evidence

IMPROVEMENTS in both feed costs and feed conversion ratios detailed in the latest MLC Pig Yearbook launched at the event were evidence of an industry now showing welcome cost reductions.

These would be needed to help offset the sow stall replacement bill, a threatened decline in sow numbers leading to increased imports and a possible £230m adverse effect on the UKs balance of payments. Comments came from Colin Baldwin, Meat and Livestock Commission pigmeat strategy manager.

Mr Baldwin predicted increased competition from the Danes, Dutch and French but said: "We can raise our game and also turn the cost of good welfare to commercial advantage.

"Our top 50% of producers can withstand competition from anyone in Europe and our top 10-15% can even compete with low-cost operators in the USA. Provided our bottom 25% improve their efficiency our industry has nothing to fear," he argued.

But it was essential to lift pigs produced/sow/year, reduce feed costs/kg of gain and forge stronger links with the meat trade.

This required collaboration more than co-operation to help cushion the worst effects of the pig trade cycle, for the present combative approach only opened the door wider to European importers.

"We have the best breeding stock in the world and I believe the best pigmeat quality, and we must capitalise on both in our home and export markets," said Mr Baldwin.