Pig industry activists throw down the gauntlet

The British Pig Industry Support Group which regularly blockaded supermarkets and distribution depots in the late 1990s has been reformed.

The group claims there is growing evidence that supermarkets are significantly increasing the amount of imported pig meat they sell, which is produced in ways that would be illegal in this country.

Welfare standards in the UK are amongst the highest in the EU, but the industry has to compete with cheap imported pigmeat undercutting the market.

The current UK average spot bacon price of 101p/kg deadweight is 9% lower than the same time last year and is pushing many pig breeders and finishers into the red.

According to the Meat and Livestock Commission, it now costs UK producers 111p/kg deadweight to produce finished pigs after allowing for depreciation.

This compares with much lower production costs in many EU countries where intensive stall and slatted systems are still in widespread use.

The BPISG have warned that their campaign will include plastering warning stickers on pigmeat products and shelves in any supermarkets that walk away from UK pig welfare standards.

These stickers are labelled “Warning – Does this imported pork meet United Kingdom productions standards?”

The National Pig Association is also claiming that aggressive “price busting” tactics adopted by many supermarkets were damaging the industry.

It is concerned that farmers are being forced to pay for the costs of supermarket price wars and promotions at a time when the industry itself is operating on negative returns.