UK - Faced with plunging prices, British pig producers are finding good news thin on the ground, so the news this week that discounter Lidl has at last joined the National Pig Association’s ‘hundred percenters club’ has proved a welcome boost to morale.
The hundred-percenters are retailers who respond to customer preference by selling 100 per cent British fresh pork, rather than topping up with cheaper lower-welfare imported product.
According to the latest Porkwatch survey, which measures British shelf facings, Lidl has now achieved the 100 per cent target and joins the exalted ranks of Aldi, Budgens, Co-op, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.
"We’re delighted with this news and hope Lidl will demonstrate over the months ahead that it isn’t a flash in the pan," said NPA chairman Richard Lister, a North Yorkshire pig producer.
Many British pig producers are now barely breaking even and some are running at a loss, as a result of falling prices throughout the year, culminating in particularly sharp drops over the past few weeks.
A year ago the Standard Pig Price, as calculated by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board from abattoir returns, stood at 151p and today it is down to below 128p. AHDB calculates, taking all costs into consideration, that current break-even price for producers is 139p.
"We’re carrying on with our Keep It Up campaign, which commends those retailers who have stood by their post-Horsegate pledges to source more British pork," said NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies.
"If retailers and foodservice want the convenience of a thriving British pig sector on their doorstep, producing reliable supplies of a quality-assured, traceable, high-welfare product, then it’s essential they make a special effort to source British pork, sausages, bacon and ham over the difficult months ahead."
Prices are falling as a result of continental over-supply — caused by Russia’s embargo on European Union pigmeat — and the continuing strength of sterling against the euro, which makes imports temptingly cheap.
In summary, September Porkwatch results show the number of British shelf-facings is broadly holding its own, but fresh pork is down 1 per cent compared to a year ago at 82 per cent, and bacon is down 4 per cent.
Waitrose and M&S remain exemplary champions of British pork, bacon, ham and sausages, whilst Sainsbury's is up on ham and sausages compared to July Porkwatch, and Budgens is up on bacon, ham and sausages.
But Asda is down in all four categories compared to July Porkwatch, although up on pork and bacon compared to a year ago, and Tesco is down significantly on pork and bacon compared to a year ago but is doing convincingly better on ham and sausages.
ThePigSite News Desk
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