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Will pig sector see recovery in 2008?

by 5m Editor
2 January 2008, at 12:06pm

NORTHERN IRELAND - Pig production remains an important component without our intensive livestock sectors. But, the recent hike in cereal prices, combined with a general slump across Europe's pork and bacon markets have combine to put both processer and farmer returns spiralling into the red, wried Richard Halleron.

"There is an expectation that markets will start to strengthen again from the Spring 2008 onwards," Ulster Pork and Bacon chief executive, Keith Smyton. "But as is the case with many of our food sectors, we are now working in an environment where the market is the sole arbiter of viability," he added.

Given the backdrop of these challenging market conditions the Forum will be striving to forge ever closer working relationships with food retailers throughout 2008.

"Both the supermarkets and the independent retailers are generally supportive of locally produced pork and bacon products," said Mr Smyton. "But a lot more can be done, particularly at those important times of the year such as Christmas, Easter and the barbecue season. It's also noticeable that many of gondola ends in supermarkets are still very biased towards imported product."

The year will see the Forum add to its now traditional range of in-store and other promotional activities.

"National Sausage Week in October continues to go from strength to strength," he explained. "But a key highlight of 2008 will be our inaugural barbeque promotion, which will be supported by a wide cross-section of retailers across Northern Ireland."

Label issue

Accurate product labelling is another issue that goes to the very heart of the challenges facing the local pig sector.

"Local consumers are not getting the full story when they look at the labels of the food products they are buying in the shops. And this issue must be addressed by the European Commission in Brussels and our own Farm Minister, Michelle Gildernew, as a matter of priority. It seems to me that we have arrived at a situation where numerous companies, now supplying Northern Ireland food retailers, are prepared to live off the good name of the local pig industry while, at the same time, depriving local farmers of the income they need to survive," explained Mr Smyton.

Source: Farming Life

5m Editor