Proper retail payments 'will save domestic pigs sector'
A world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable, according to the National Pig Association.
But British supermarkets can protect consumers from shortages and steep price rises if they pay Britain's loss-making pig farmers a fair price, to help them remain in production.
New data shows the EU pig herd is declining at a significant rate, and this is a trend that is being mirrored around the world. Pig farmers have been plunged into loss by high pig-feed costs, caused by the global failure of maize and soya harvests.
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All main European pig-producing countries report shrinking sow herds. Falling numbers in the 12 months to June 2012 have been reported this week by Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland and Sweden.
"British supermarkets know they have to raise the price they pay Britain's pig farmers or risk empty spaces on their shelves next year," said NPA chairman Richard Longthorp. "But competition is so fierce in the high street at present, each is waiting for the other to move first."
In its Save Our Bacon campaign, the NPA is asking shoppers to make a point of selecting pork and bacon with the Red Tractor logo, as an increase in demand for British products now may help persuade supermarkets to act before it is too late.
Sainsbury's has increased the price it pays to some of its pig farmer suppliers and the NPA has welcomed this gesture. But, it says, the major supermarkets need to do much more, if they want to protect their customers from shortages and high prices next year.
The British Pig Executive's Mick Sloyan warned a private meeting of British and European retailers at a Brussels summit last week that a fall of only 2% in slaughterings next year will cause prices to rise by 10%.
The NPA believes slaughterings could fall by as much as 10% in the second half of next year, which indicates a doubling of the price of European pork and pork products.
"If supermarkets act now, they can prevent this happening," says the NPA.
* BPEX is planning an autumn conference at Exeter to help pig producers capitalise on their biggest opportunity to improve financial returns by focusing on finishing performance. The 2TS Focus on Finishing conference will feature both pig producers and technical experts sharing the latest research and experience in finisher pig management. It is scheduled for Exeter Racecourse on October 22. Anyone wishing to attend should register by phoning 0247 647 8792.