Retailers should stop “screwing down” pork prices and do more to support British pig farmers, says the National Pig Association.
In an open letter this week, NPA chairman Stewart Houston said its Porkwatch survey showed there had been a “significant walk-away” from British to cheaper imported pork, despite consumers remaining keen to support domestic product thanks to champions like Jamie Oliver.
He said retailers had taken their high street price wars to the abattoirs, plunging pig processors into the red and causing some to pull out of the Deadweight Average Pig Price recording system and break contracts.
“For several months leading retailers have been squeezing them until the pips squeak. It’s gone far enough. After failing to get the profit they need out of the top end of the chain, processors are resorting to squeezing it, once again, out of the bottom,” he said.
“This challenge comes during a short period of profitability, the first in ten years, which producers are using to drag themselves back to the sort of efficiency levels we used to be proud of so that we can compete with cheap imports, notwithstanding our higher standards.
“It also comes at a time when the Government’s Pig Industry Task Force is starting to work with retailers to address supply chain inadequacies of this nature.”
He thanked those retailers that had remained committed to British pork, but said others should support domestic producers or risk driving the industry back to “the bad old days of conflict and confrontation”.