Asda is to pay its Pork Link producers an 8p/kg deadweight feed price supplement for the 3000 finished pigs a week they supply, in recognition of the problems that high feed prices and low market prices are causing.
The National Pig Association (NPA) now wants to see similar action from other buyers, who have been approached but no response has as yet been received, said chairman Stewart Houston.
The last pig slump of 2007-08 saw the UK pig breeding herd contract by 7%, he said, as he called on retailers to reduce their reliance on imports – a move that would leave scope for the price of home-produced pigmeat to rise.
NPA would be working with Asda to ensure the full 8p went directly to all producers supplying Asda, said Mr Houston.
Some abattoirs had recently been rolling on orders, so pigs that were booked in for slaughter were left on the farm for an extra week and sometimes longer because it was easier to do this than get out of import contracts, said Mr Houston. Apart from increasing feed costs, this also raises the risk of producer incomes being hit further by weight and grading penalties.
Asda had also committed to review its sourcing policy with a view to including more high welfare, assured British pork and pork products on their key lines, hopefully to the levels of their competitors. Waitrose, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer, which are committed to 100% British pork, had all seen increased sales, said Mr Houston.
The introduction of Private Storage Aids for EU pigmeat, which begins next week, would mainly help the market in continental Europe but could have a knock-on benefit here.