By Peter Crichton

1999 might hold some promise for those UK producers who can stay on course.

There is no doubt that, according to the British Retail Consortium, most of their members will be sourcing a higher proportion of their pigmeat supplies from UK producers.

This follows relentless pressure from producer support groups and calls for all UK retailers and caterers to only handle supplies that match the UKs non-stall-and-tether and meat and bonemeal-free status.

With sow culling hitting record levels, supplies of store pigs are starting to tighten, and this will lead to a corresponding reduction in the number of slaughter pigs available in 2-3 months time.

But unless the 1999 AAPP can average over 95p/kg for the year, more UK producers will be forced to quit the industry, and many are already in negative equity.

If the same pattern of culling and a brake on expansion takes place throughout the EU and the USA, by mid-1999 the industry may see a price revival – but not perhaps one that will put their units back in the black.