21 June 2001
Pig industry looks to niche markets

By Alistair Driver

THE National Pig Association has outlined a radical new vision for the pig industry which considers whether the future lies in niche markets.

A move in this direction would almost certainly mean further shrinkage in an already beleaguered industry.

The report was compiled by NPA officials in the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis to stimulate debate about the industrys next steps.

The internal document questions if there is a future for UK producers in the commodity market, according to association regional manager Ian Campbell.

Hundreds of producers have quit in recent years as rock bottom prices, the strong pound and a flood of imports have been compounded by swine fever and foot-and-mouth.

“It will continue to be a huge uphill struggle to compete on the commodity market,” Mr Campbell said.

“Niche marketing of UK specific pigmeat may be the way forward and if it is, we need to decide how to go about it.”

He acknowledged that moving into niche marketing would lead to further downsizing of the industry, but said the key is to produce profitable pigmeat.

The report looks at how farmers could work with processors to meet precise specifications demanded by the customer.

Producers need to take this approach rather than simply produce pigs and then think about where they could sell it, Mr Campbell said.

The report also considers how the way pigmeat is marketed could be improved.

It questions whether regional advertising could be more effective than national promotion campaigns.

NPA campaigns Malcolm Baxter said the report was absolutely excellent.

“The sooner we get it signed off the better. We are sick to the eyeballs of going to the wall and it is time we had a new pig industry,” he said.

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