12 November 1999
Imports soar as UK tightens pig welfare
By FWi staff
PIGMEAT imports have increased dramatically since British pig farmers were obliged by law to introduce more welfare-friendly conditions, according to new figures.
Research by the National Pig Association shows that for the first six months of the year imported pigmeat products were up by 20%.
In the key fresh and chilled hams category, there was a 40% increase.
Producers say the stall-and-tether ban, introduced in January in this country, has brought extra costs.
They point out that animal welfare standards are not as stringent in other countries.
Ian Campbell of the British Pig Industry Support Group says supermarket claims that most of the pigmeat they sell is reared in welfare-friendly conditions do not tell the whole story.
He told Radio 4s Farming Today programme: “Fresh pork by and large is British and that is what they are talking about when they talk about pigmeat.
“Pigmeat though really is bacon, ham, gammon, sausages, pork pies – all the range of products that come from the pig.
“The problem we have is that, although fresh pork is very adequately covered within the retailers remit, its the rest of the products which come from the pig.”
A recent survey by farm animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming found that pigmeat produced under stall-and-tether systems was still widely available in British supermarkets.
It has been estimated that one-third of Britains 7500 pig farmers could quit the beleaguered industry before Christmas.
In addition to extra animal welfare costs, producers blame their plight on the strong Pound, a global glut of pigmeat and knock-on effects from the BSE crisis.
In the 12 months up to June the UK breeding herd fell by 11.5%. Despite these cuts, prices have not risen and producers are losing £7 per pig, according to the NPA.