27 February 1998

UK pork trade should flourish in face of stall and tether ban

PIG producers should benefit from the impending stall and tether ban due next January by increasing home produced pork and bacon sales at the expense of imports from European competitors who do not have to comply with the EU ruling until 2006.

Public pressure drove the government to introduce the ban quickly. It followed that many consumers would favour UK pigmeat produced under the new welfare standards, Unigates chief executive, Sir Ross Buckland, told a recent Sentry Conference entitled Rebuilding Confidence in Food.

The company was talking to the main pigmeat buyers in the UK to ensure they were aware of the competitive advantages.

Farmers had to play their part too. He called for closer partnerships between farmers and processors to ensure the high quality, traceable products also needed to secure such markets were available.

increased weekly kill

Partnership, high standards and traceability had been shown to work in practice, Sir Ross said. The companys pigmeat business based in Malton, Yorks, had increased the weekly kill from 18,000 animals a week five years ago to over 80,000 a week today. Annual pigmeat purchases from British farmers now amounted to £300m, and export sales were worth £100m a year.

Farmers benefited from premiums paid for leaner carcasses, receiving a 7p/kg premium over AAPP. Nine out of 10 pigs delivered to Malton met the standards, compared with half five years ago, he said.

Unigate, the third largest pigmeat processor in Europe, had invested £40m at the Malton site since 1994. In the past two years, a further £50m bought four other pigmeat businesses. This year, Unigates total capital expenditure will exceed £100m on its milk and pigmeat businesses, said Sir Ross.