Pig industry leaders are rallying for support to help farmers survive what they call the “worst period of low prices” in recent years.
In a statement, the coalition – AHDB Pork, Assured Food Standards, the British Pig Association, NFU Scotland, the National Pig Association, the Pig Veterinary Society and Quality Meat Scotland – called on consumers, retailers, butchers, processors and foodservice providers to help prevent a potential “exodus”.
Higher production and the impact of the Russian embargo has left the EU pork market saturated.
The strength of the pound over the euro, twinned with traditionally lower welfare standards on the continent, means pork imported from mainland Europe is also 20-30p cheaper a kilogram than British pork.
As a result, UK pork prices at their lowest for seven years.
Without pig industry stakeholder support, a reduction in the size of the UK pig herd is unavoidable, the coalition says.
“Even though this country is only 50% self-sufficient in pork, our farmers are losing up to £10 on every pig they sell, as a result of European Union oversupply,” the statement reads.
“Without the support of the rest of the food-chain, serious contraction in the national pig herd is inevitable. This will mean even more imports of lower-welfare pork in future.”
“Some players in the British industry have already signalled their intention to scale back or quit. To prevent a much larger exodus before the European Union market starts to rebalance towards the end of this year.”
To prevent a “much larger exodus” in the short-term, the coalition is calling for:
- Consumers to make a point of checking the pork, bacon, ham and sausages they buy are British
- Independent butchers to be “honest” and “prominently” label cheap imported pork
- Foodservice providers to serve British pork and “signal the fact on your table and wall menus”
- Processors not to exploit the current period of oversupply to increase their margins
- Retailers not already sourcing 100% British pork to make a “commitment immediately to source at least another 5%”