By Peter Crichton

Friday, 9 July, 1999

RECENT moves in the marketing and promotional sectors are among the latest attempts by sinking UK pig farmers to stay afloat.

After over 14 months of negative equity many producers feel that one way to have more clout in the market in the market place is for all the different strands of the industry such as producer groups and trade associations to be drawn together.

This has resulted in the formation of larger bodies who, it is hoped, will be able to fight for the industry more effectively.

United Pig Marketing Ltd is one result of this swing towards fewer and more effective marketing groups.

UPM Ltd is headed by Robin Pooley, the Norfolk businessman credited for turning around the fortunes of Anglian Produce Ltd.

He also has close NFU links as chairman of NFU Corporate, the membership category for farmer controlled businesses.

The new supergroup comprises a merger of nine producer marketing groups including AQM Ltd, AF Plc, UPB Porcofram, Meadow Valley, Yorkshire Farmers, Quality Pig Producers, Scotlean Pigs, Nupork and western Quality Pig Producers.

Although nine groups come under the UPM Ltd umbrella, Robin Pooley claims that at the same time they will retain their individual independence.

The published aims of UPM Ltd are to have collective strength to negotiate stronger strategic alliances with customers.

At the same time they hope to use their sheer size to strike better deals for their members with suppliers and finance institutions.

According to UPM Ltd they will be marketing over 3.25 million pigs annually which represents about 25% of the UK kill.

There are fears however that unless more of the major marketing groups such as BOCM Pauls, Allied and Dalgety can be persuaded to join up UPM will lack the muscle needed to make it a force to be reckoned with.

On the organisational front the merger of the NFU Pigs Council and the BPA has been given the green light at the June NFU Council meeting to form a new umbrella body called the National Pig Association (NPA).

The support of the British Pig Industry Support group (BPISG) is believed essential for the new body to claim to represent the bulk of UK pig producers many of who are not members of the NFU or the BPA.