10 January 2000
Organic success based on branding

by Alistair Driver

A NEW venture will use strong branding and combined production expertise to try and make up the shortfall in British organic pigmeat sales.

Wiltshire-based Eastbrook Farms Organic Meat and Suffolk-based British Quality Pork (BQP) launched the initiative on Monday (10 January).

Long-term contracts will now be offered to new farmers prepared to change their conventional production systems and supply organic pigmeat instead.

The 50:50 joint venture will target supermarkets with a brand it hopes consumers will come to associate with consistent quality and taste.

Eastbrook Farm organic pigmeat is already sold to retailers from founder Helen Brownings 120-sow unit on her 1,337 acre farm.

Mrs Browning believes that working with BQP will enable farmers to reduce production costs without compromising organic standards.

For BQP, a division of Associated British Nutrition, the joint venture offers the benefits of the already established Erastbrook brand name.

Mrs Browning said that organic production could be rewarding. Currently all Eastbrook suppliers are making money, she said.

But going organic requires a huge restructuring of the business and is not an easy way out of the current crisis in the pig sector, she emphasised.

Conversion of land to organic status can take two or three years. Different management techniques are required ands organic production is costly.

Organic feed alone is often three times more expensive than conventional feed. Total organic production costs are often 250 per cent higher.