January – the bleakest month of the year. We already feel deflated with the post-Christmas blues, endless rain and darkness, only to be made to feel worse by the constant bombardment of “beat the bulge” messages, marketing of unsustainable fad diets and, dare I say it, Veganuary.
To add insult to injury, a number of US companies are ramping up their progress towards providing substitute meat products, including “pork” made of soy leghemoglobin, produced from genetically modified yeast.
One company, Impossible Foods, states it won’t stop until it eliminates the need for animals in the food chain.
Thankfully, the AHDB is on hand to thwart the negative messages, with the next stage of its televised Love Flavour, Love Pork marketing campaign.
It showcases a range of dishes, including healthy sweet and sour pork, to tie in with new year’s resolutions, those swaying towards a plant-based diet and those looking to increase their culinary repertoire.
It aims to help people make nutritionally balanced choices, as pork medallions are lean and protein-rich.
Despite the vegan agenda and diet culture being pushed at every turn, last year 98% of UK households bought red meat and 99.8% bought a dairy product.
Globally, consumers rate the quality of British pork products highly, so let’s remain positive and shout about what makes British pork great.
We have taken the first steps towards changing our herd structure, serving 20 of our best-performing sows with the Topigs Norsvin Large White. It will be some time before we see any changes on the ground, but I’m excited about the herd’s prospects.
I can hardly believe that we have now sent 26 batches on the five-week system. When I first started writing this column, we were only on batch two.
Batch Z was one of our best, with 888 bacon pigs reaching over 111kg at an average of 151 days old.
What’s more impressive is that despite being sold over the Christmas period, with some short killing weeks, we managed to get more than 99.5% of pigs in the weight range – a record for us.
Batch A is looking great too, so let’s hope this sets a precedent for 2020.
Sophie Hope is a Farmer Focus writer from near Cheltenham. Read her biography