Farmers under Pressure from Supermarkets

UK - A supermarket price war could dent hopes for stabilising the fragile pig industry, a leading campaigner has warned.
calendar icon 25 September 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Pig farmer, Fred Henley, from Seaton Ross in Yorkshire fears that the latest attempts by leading supermarkets to undercut one another will not help the fight to secure the pig meat trade, reports Pocklington Post.

Farmers have struggled to receive a reasonable price from the big chains to help sustain the industry, and most were losing money with every pig.

The price of feed has dropped in recent months and even the price of pigs has risen steadily, but there are concerns that the supermarkets’ efforts to combat the credit crunch by lowering prices could be offset to producers.

Mr Henley said, "It's got to the stage where we can make a quid or two but not enough of an incentive to keep us going.

"What's happening in the supermarkets won't help because in my opinion they'll push even harder to get prices lower.

"If they are dropping prices it will be pushed back towards us."

Only last week, Tesco announced a new low-cost range to help win back cash-strapped customers.

The credit crunch and threat of recession are forcing more people into shopping at lower budget food stores such as Netto or Lidl, and the larger supermarkets are now looking to compete.

Meanwhile, Mr Henley says a solution to save the pig industry is still needed.

If hundreds of fed-up farmers do quit then it could have a knock-on effect for the consumer, he warns.

He believes it would leave a short supply of pork and send supermarket prices soaring. Poor quality meat could also be shipped in from the continent.

"What I've said for a long while is that I want to see some form of stability, although I'm not sure how we're going to get it," he said.

"What gets me is the whole industry is just so volatile and unpredictable, you don't know what's going to happen next. I was talking to some pig farmers the other day and we all agreed it doesn't matter how good a business man you are, it's just down to luck."

The industry is also facing fresh problems caused by the summer's poor crop yield.

With straw needed for pig bedding, Mr Henley said the wet weather has left it in short supply.

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