By Peter Crichton

MALTON BACON boss Max Hilliard plans to pay a guaranteed price to former contract suppliers until the end of the year, according to pig industry sources.

Malton, which slaughters almost 35% of all pigs killed in the UK, sent shock waves through the industry last month when it revealed plans to stop basing its payments on a base price recorded by the Meat and Livestock Commission.

But industry insiders say Malton now proposes to pay producers a fixed price of 84p/kg deadweight until the end of the year with additional premiums available for high quality grades.

Calls to Malton Bacon this week met the response that “Mr Hilliard is away until Monday.” But talk in the trade is that Malton is also prepared to offer suppliers an alternative.

The second option is to sell pigs on the MLC-based price until the end of August and then go on to a new “Malton Published Base Price”. Malton is yet to indicate how this price will be calculated.

Producers are therefore faced with a stark choice: Either accept 84p/kg now, or run the risk of being dropped from the suppliers list in September. Producers fear that, even if they are retained, they will have to accept a price for their finished pigs which could actually be less than 84p/kg.

But Malton has just bought south-west abattoir Case & Sons and competition is falling into fewer hands. Alternative outlets are becoming few and far between and producers may have to accept a loss-making price for the remainder of the year.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry