Farmer focus: Grim outlook in pig market

So the pig game is still looking pretty grim. On the plus side the weather’s looking better, which is making life easier on the farm.

The light land on the fattening unit is beginning to resemble a desert, so at least the bedding-up requirements will be reduced.

Read more from our other livestock farmer focus writers 

Unfortunately, due to the current market, we’ve got pigs backing up, coming out of our ears. Surely the market’s got to turn soon?

See also: Tough year forecast for the pig market

The main problem is there’s just so much cheap imported pork about. We’re managing to shift our prime cuts easily enough – loin, bacon, bellies and legs, but there is so much cheap forequarter meat about I’m practically having to give it away each week.

As I’ve said before, I’ve become a wheeler dealer Del Boy, but still I have no yellow three-wheeled van, which I’m pretty gutted about.

More positive is the recent implementation of country of origin meat labelling.

Now customers can see where the meat has been born, reared and slaughtered – but only if they buy from a supermarket or similar retailer.

See also: Market prices and trends

Butchers and farm shops are under no such legislation when selling loose product.

The problem here is that while most are playing a fair game, customers would be under the assumption that meat bought at a butchers or farm shop will be sourced locally.

There are some shops that just aren’t playing fair.

Calling yourself a farm shop puts trust into a customer that meat will be sourced ethically and locally. But this unfortunately isn’t always the case.

And for the butchers and farm shops that are sourcing ethically and locally, it is putting them at a disadvantage to those selling cheap imports at half the price. Unfortunately these outlets are doing a roaring trade with their customers blissfully unaware of the origin.

Hopefully some legislation will be brought in to change this so information on where the meat was sourced has to be displayed on a blackboard or similar.

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