Having spent a few days in Denmark at the European Pig Producers Congress, I thought I’d write “from the other side”.
This is my second time at EPP. Last year in Lithuania the main thing I learnt was that as a producer, I spend a lot of time slating imported produce from our foreign counterparts, but rarely stop to think about the challenges they face as producers too.
Don’t get me wrong, I shall continue to promote our higher welfare systems and British produce over imports, and genuinely believe that ours is superior in quality and welfare, but just like British farmers, the Danes face huge challenges when it comes to profitably, despite being at the top of their game production-wise. In fact, producing 37 piglets a sow a year, with a target of 40, their game is somewhat better than most.
But when the first topic of the conference was exit strategies, it became clear that these guys are having a tough time too.
As well as having high “normal” costs such as feed, the political demands they now have has meant that their costs have soared. Again, don’t get me wrong, theses demands needed to be put in place and should have been 14 years ago when they were placed upon us, but obviously there has had to be a great amount of investment in achieving this and the return in monetary terms just does not stack up. Welfare-wise, it has been a must, and honestly, I still didn’t particularly like the systems over there, especially when I’m used to looking at our outdoor sows. Without doubt though these guys are, like us, up against it when it comes to supply chains.
So in conclusion, we are not alone; the story is the same across the Continent. The consumer needs to pay more, the retailer needs to pass the increase on, as does the processor. When looking at supply chains, there is generally always enough money in the pot for everyone to be making a bit, but wherever you go, the farmers in various sectors are the ones on the end of the chain, subsidising profits. Does it make me feel any better knowing that our foreign competitors are suffering too? Take a wild guess.
Anna Longthorp runs Anna’s Happy Trotters, a pork wholesale business supplying butchers, restaurants and farm shops with free-range pork from her family’s 2,100 breeding sows