Retailers must pay more as pig feed costs soar – NPA

The National Pig Association (NPA) is calling on retailers to pay more for British pork, to cover increasing costs of production.

The announcement follows a huge rise in feed costs as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

UK March feed wheat futures stood at £290.50/t on 10 March, an increase of £71.35/t on month-earlier levels.

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Pig producers have been making a loss for five consecutive quarters, and in the final quarter of 2021 lost on average £39 a pig, according to AHDB.

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer said a large and immediate price increase is needed from retailers, with the current pricing mechanism failing to keep up.

“We are staring down the barrel of a total collapse of the British pig industry, which is not only a tragedy for the producers themselves, but will leave UK consumers short of one of their favourite and most versatile meats,” said Mr Mutimer.

“Retailers will not be able to rely on EU pork, either, as it gets shorter in supply and more expensive. They need to act now to ensure that they can continue to secure our high-quality British pork – we haven’t got long.”

One producer reported to the NPA that high wheat prices are expected to push their feed costs up to £119 a pig in April 2022, an increase of £41 a pig on previous year’s levels, while another producer has forecast losses of £50 a pig.

The NPA is also continuing to call on Defra to offer a financial support package to the sector.

Retailer response

Farmers Weekly contacted the British Retail Consortium (BRC) as well as retailers Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda for comment.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the BRC, said: “Retailers are doing their utmost to ensure farmers get a sustainable price for their pork, but are conscious that households are under huge financial pressure as inflation continues to rise.

“Retailers are already experiencing cost increases in transport, energy, commodity prices and wages, which are forcing them to raise prices for consumers.”