Imports ruin UK pig producers

By Peter Crichton

THE flood of imported pigmeat continues to push more UK pig producers over the edge as banks and receivers move in.

As a result of the rising tide of cheap imports fuelled by a strengthening of the Pound more domestic pig producers are being forced into receivership.

The latest major casualty is an 1100-sow East Anglian breeder/finisher, Martlesham Piggeries Ltd, and many more are reported to be heading for the same fate.

BOCM Pauls have now sold the bulk of their 50,000-plus sow herd rather than face the prospect of rising losses.

This will allow the company to concentrate on their milling and marketing core activities, said Jonathan Farnhill, BOCM Pauls marketing and development director.

This leaves the giant Cereal Industries subsidiary BQP producing over 10,000 pigs per week and also facing rising losses over the Christmas and New Year trading periods.

Trade sources are reporting another challenge to the entire UK industry in 2000 as the Danes are quoting 12-month delivery contracts into the UK at a fixed 85p/kg deadweight.

This may effectively cap the UK price at below cost of production for a big slice of the bacon market for the whole of the year.

All the major retailers seem to be prepared to source imported products at the expense of earlier welfare promises.

Chris Ling, Tesco agricultural manager, pledged at an AMC sponsored seminar last week that all pigmeat imported by the company matched the UK spec.

But this is at odds with a report by the same company on 21 November that this only applied to fresh pigmeat.

As bacon, ham, processed meats and sausages are excluded from the “fresh” category producers continue to face crippling competition in the retail sector from imports, many of which are from non-welfare friendly MBM fed sources.

The British Pig industry Support group are planning a further demonstration using live sows in stalls in key London locations next week to grab media and public attention.

Clear country-of-origin labelling is essential to obtain the price differential that the UK industry need to survive, said Ian Campbell, chairman of the East Anglian BPISG.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry

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