5 September 1997

UK NO LONGER TOP DOG

Investment in more extensive systems imposed on the UK pig industry means the UKs long-held lead in pig production efficiency no longer exists.

Since 1993 France, Denmark and the Netherlands have improved performance and cut costs a kg liveweight gained. They can now produce more pigs a sow, at faster growth rates and worryingly more cheaply than we can in the UK.

It shows that while other nations have been free to make investments that improve production efficiency, UK producers have been sidetracked into investing in more extensive systems.

It is now vital that producers familiarise themselves with techniques that could improve efficiency such as AI and simple health management measures. Arguments against the banning of vital feeds such as fishmeal must also be appreciated so that we can provide a strong case to retailers for its continued use.

At the same time, pressure should be mounted on retailers to improve in-store promotion of UK pigmeat which still remains low key. Only British pigmeat can boast the traceability vital for long term customer confidence through assurance schemes such as FABPigs. With a higher profile for these schemes British producers may then see some return for their considerable investment.