17 November 1995

PRICE IS THE REALITY IN MARKET

THAT the UK pig industry could gain marketing advantage through promoting its products as more welfare-friendly alone, is a simplistic argument and does not recognise the realities of the marketplace, says Grenville Welsh, chief executive of the British Pig Association (BPA).

Its annual report states that the pig industry is worth £1bn at farmgate level and £3bn at retail level. In volume terms it is the most important meat sector, exceeding poultry.

The consumption of pigmeat at 20.8kg a person a year – one third of all meat consumed – and is almost equal to the combined total of the beef and lamb sectors.

"The flaw in the case of securing market advantage is that consumers cannot be persuaded to translate their welfare or environmental beliefs into buying decisions," says Mr Welsh.

"The growing catering sector largely sources on price, with some UK abattoirs purchasing significant quantities of imported primal cuts which are not subsequently identified, and retailers are not persuaded to source home-produced product," he says.

"Pigmeat products possess certain advantages in their appeal to the modern consumer whose eating habits have changed. An increasing number of purchasers are preoccupied with healthy eating. The quality, leanness, versatility and value for money that pigmeat provides are the major selling points.

"These and other perceived advantages must be backed up by hard evidence that our product is better. A start has been made with the British Quality Assured Pork Initiative.

"Promotional activity should also be shaped around the pig market so that when prices are low, promotion is stepped up," says Mr Welsh. &#42

The quality, leanness, versatility and value for money that pigmeat provides are the major selling points.