By Peter Crichton

IN an effort to improve price stability within the industry moves are afoot to set up a giant umbrella marketing group to handle about 5 million pigs annually.

Robin Pooley, who helped to mastermind the growth of Anglian Produce and specialises in farm business management, seeks to unite 11 of the countrys major pig groups who handle about 30% of the UK kill.

The aim of the new group is to source all pigs on a pre-agreed contractual basis. This is intended to iron out some of the current volatility that has played havoc with producers cash flows and budgets.

At this stage these proposals have met with a mixed response from buyers and sellers alike. Max Hilliard, who runs the Malton Bacon factory which accounts for over 30% of UK slaughterings, has remained neutral on theses suggestions.

But Graham England of the NFU pigs committee and Stewart Houston – who set up the British Pig Industry Support Group – gave these ambitious plans a cautious welcome.

Pig producers have said that if this venture leads to a more uniform form of contract throughout the industry and a pricing structure with less of a “take it or leave it” attitude from the abattoirs, then it must be a step in the right direction.

The new initiative follows calls at the end of last year for marketing groups to play a more pro-active role in agreeing contracts and prices with abattoirs, rather than simply booking the pigs in and taking the price offered on the day.