Why survival will depend on honest country of origin labeling in 2004

UK - European pig production is expected to fall a few percentage points next year and prices should increase accordingly. Some pundits expect more.
calendar icon 10 December 2003
clock icon 3 minute read

NPA Logo

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & White-hall, and with pro-cessors, supermarkets & caterers – fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

They look to the prolonged period of below-cost-of-production prices on the continent and foresee a price bonanza as the continental herd shrinks by far more than is currently predicted.

But others consider this outcome unlikely given the deadhand on prices exerted by those serial over-producers the Danes, who are encouraged to have a sublime faith in the future.

It is noticeable the Danes will not immediately suffer crippling feed increases because of their far-sighted method of negotiating prices annually.

So for British producers to survive the cost-of-production crisis ahead, it will be essential to maintain the British price premium which, until retailers started shipping in foreign supplies for Christmas, was standing at a healthy 21 pence a kilo.

British producers rely on the premium to offset their higher costs of production and generally lower productivity (the reasons for which are well documented).

A majority of consumers prefer to buy British pork and pork products if given the choice. For many, price is not a significant issue, but quality is, and British producers can deliver the required quality in terms of taste, longer shelf life, welfare and quality assurance.

But, as the industry knows to its cost, some processors and retailers will import cheaper pork and fudge the country of origin issue if they think they can get away with it.

Canadian producers are in no doubt about the importance of country-of-origin labeling. In 2006 their biggest customer introduces mandatory country-of-origin labeling and they fear it will significantly reduce sales of Canadian pork.

Without honest county of origin labeling, British producers will see their premium disappear in a wisp of smoke.

The situation becomes particularly critical next year as a clutch of leading processors consider the continuing tight supplies of British pigs and wonder whether they dare risk a strategic move away from British pork.

Robust label policing by NPA producer and allied trades members and continued promotion of the Quality Standard Mark appear to many to be the only guaranteed mechanisms for sustainable prices in 2004.

And such activity will need to be accompanied by a new campaign highlighting the sins of those who would attempt to pass of foreign pork as British and deprive British producers of their livelihoods.

With this in mind, ways are being looked at of resurrecting the authoritative Crisis in Pigs supermarket survey.

Source: National Pig Association - By Digby Scott - 10th December 2003

© 2000 - 2023 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.