25 August 1998
Pig farmers take protest to retailers
By FWi staff
HARD-UP pig farmers protested in London this afternoon (Tuesday) as producers met retail representatives. The farmers demanded that supermarkets whole-heartedly support British pork.
Two coachloads of farmers protested near the British Retail Consortium headquarters, while a smaller delegation of producers discussed the collapse in pig prices with BRC officials.
“If this was the Stock Market, trading would be suspended until sanity prevailed,” said Stewart Houston, chairman of the newly-formed British Pig Industry Support Group (BPISG).
Pig prices have crashed over recent months and many farmers are making a £30 loss on each pig they sell.
The pig producers claim supermarkets are sourcing cheap imported pigmeat instead of more expensive British pork, which is reared to higher welfare standards.
Mr Houston called on supermarket buyers to reconsider their tactics. He is incensed at comments made by BRC director John Morris, who claimed on television recently that the same animal welfare rules are applied to imported and domestic pigmeat.
“He tried to trash our message to shoppers that British pork and bacon is infinitely superior to imported meat,” said Mr Houston.
“When British shoppers buy French and Dutch pork, ham and bacon, theyre buying meat that we say in most cases comes from pigs reared in a way that would be illegal in this country.”
A spokeswoman for the BRC criticised the way in which the pig farmers had protested so close to BRC headquarters while the negotiations were taking place.
“Its not really fair to single [Mr Morris] out in the way that theyre doing,” she said.
The spokeswoman said that the BRC would release a full position on the pig crisis statement tomorrow (Wednesday).