By Peter Crichton

PIG Industry Support Group members claim that the MLC is failing to illustrate the difference between UK and imported pigmeat as the stall-and-tether ban – effective 1 January – comes into force.

The group has been fighting an uphill struggle to persuade retailers and caterers to switch away from cheaper imports, in spite of the risk that these may have come from non-welfare friendly meat-and-bonemeal-fed units.

Many are suggesting that more positive and militant action is the only way to get the supermarkets and caterers to change their buying policies to favour the UK product.

Pig farmers who carried a countrywide series of protests at Granada-owned Little Chef and Happy Eater roadside restaurants this week believe that this may be an effective way to persuade the operators to use UK rather than imported bacon.

In spite of the possibility of a price rally next spring, producers say this will be too late for many of them, who have cashed in all the family silver. For the whole of 1998 the AAPP has only briefly touched the magic break-even figure of 95p/kg, and looks set to average around 75p/kg.

This means that, for the industry to break even in 1999, the AAPP will have to exceed 115p for at least 6 months of the year. But with EU prices currently as low as 48p/kg in the Netherlands analysts believe this target seems unlikely to be achieved.