Meat price increase vital for producers

Meat prices must increase as livestock production in the UK is almost at breaking point, a report by accountants, Deloitte, has said.

Shortages of wheat have pushed up feed costs by 100%, while foot and mouth and recent flooding have added to the financial woes of the livestock industry. The combined impact of events is now threatening the future viability of livestock production, the report said.

UK consumers hold the key to a more resilient outlook, according to food and farming partner of Deloitte, Richard Crane.

Price rises will be vital to secure the future of UK meat production and without considerable increase, home-grown British produce could become a rarity on the shelves, he added.

“Increased prices will allow farmers to continue to meet the growing demand for local, high quality meat.”

And, coupled with the dangers faced on the home market, the repercussions of foot and mouth are expected to affect the industry on a global level.

 “The fall in UK meat production and subsequent exports could make way for the UK’s foreign meat-producing competitors to ramp up production efforts and sustain a competitive edge over the UK.

“The longer the export ban remains in place, the longer our overseas markets become harder to establish,” said Mr Crane.

British Pig Executive chairman, Stewart Houston echoed Mr Crane’s comments.

Securing sustainable increases and strengthening supply chains are crucial to overcoming soaring inputs in the pig industry, Mr Houston said.

During a meeting with junior DEFRA minister, Lord Rooker and Sainsbury representatives, Mr Houston commented that although the UK pig industry had made real progress by improving productivity, this was now threatened by rising feed costs and the impact of foot and mouth.

He stressed the need for retailers to help suppliers address supply chain issues or see pig producers leave the industry.

Lord Rooker highlighted the importance of developing partnerships throughout the supply chain, adding the importance of targeted export recovery, particularly to countries outside the EU such as the Far East.

A delegation of Ulster pig producers, led by UFU president, Kenneth Sharkey, has also called for Tesco to increase farm gate returns to offset price increases, an issue the retailer acknowledged needed to be resolved urgently.

“With these increases in feed costs, production of bacon and pork in Northern Ireland simply cannot continue unless prices to producers increase to take account of rising costs. Retail price will have to rise to achieve this,” said Mr Sharkey.