15 October 1999

Seize marketing initiative

Continuing our series following pig producers progress in

weathering the crisis, Marianne Curtis visited Suffolk

producer Mark Hayward who has recently taken marketing

into his own hands

PRODUCER-driven marketing initiatives are the way forward, believes one Suffolk pig producer.

Making a proportion of MLC levy payments available to interested pig producers would go a long way towards improving pigmeat marketing at a local level, according to Mark Hayward. who runs 800 outdoor sows at Ashmoor Farm, Wickham Market.

"Producers pay thousands of £s a year to the MLC and have no real say in how that money is spent," he says.

"Giving pig producers access to a percentage of their own levy money would enable local promotion activities rather than most of the money going only to large retailers.

"Making this money available to producers would create a situation where a lot more people would be working to market pork and thinking about marketing."

Mr Hayward has been doing his own local marketing, selling pork from his Ashmoor Hall Farm under the Dingley Dell label for the last four months. "I had posters, shelf strips, brochures, recipe cards and pack labels produced by a local design company.

"Ladies in Pigs were involved in cooking pork in the two local co-ops when we launched the product. I am aiming to achieve consumer loyalty to Dingley Dell pork and have been surprised by the number of local people willing to identify with a local product."

But reaching the stage of being able to launch the product has taken a lot of time and effort. "I have been working on the project for about nine months, designing a logo and writing literature. A really bright person would have probably done it in three or four days."

But Mr Hayward feels that focusing on the project has provided a welcome diversion from thinking about the pig industry crisis, and brought him closer to consumers.

However, he is still concerned about the state of the industry and believes there should be far more co-operation between all its sectors. "Producers, processors and retailers should work more closely together. There isnt serious activity on all fronts to sort it out."

He is also disappointed by the governments response to the crisis. "The government should be falling over itself to set in place high welfare standards for imported pigmeat.

"Importation of pigmeat not meeting welfare standards applied by the government to UK producers should not be allowed. Also pigs fed meat and bonemeal should either not be imported into this country, or producers should be compensated for not being allowed to use the feed.

"We cant have a situation where we have the highest welfare standards in the world, but the minute pigmeat is imported, they go out of the window."

&#8226 Need access to levy money.

&#8226 Local initiatives.

&#8226 Consumer contact.