Call for Retailers to Support Scottish Pig Producers

SCOTLAND, UK - NFU Scotland has written to major retailers asking for a renewed commitment to stocking home-produced pork and bacon at a time when all pig producers face an unparalleled increase in the price of feed for their animals.
calendar icon 26 January 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

The engagement with UK retailers comes at a time when pig meat prices across Europe have collapsed, partly fuelled by the recent dioxin feed scare, leaving an abundance of cheap supplies. The European Commission decision yesterday (24 January 2011) to trigger Private Storage Aid (PSA) as a tool to help tackle the crisis in the sector is welcome but has come at a time when some stores continue to take the opportunity to import and stock non-UK pork.

In a welcome development, the major retailer Asda has indicated that it is to factor rising feed costs into its farmgate prices. A similar price pledge from all retailers, along with a greater commitment to stock home-produced pork and bacon is desperately needed to stabilise and improve returns to pig farmers in the country.

NFU Scotland’s Pigs Committee Chairman, Philip Sleigh said, “The decision to introduce PSA with a view to stabilising the European pig sector is a hugely welcome development and the news that measures may be in place as early as the end of this week recognises the predicament that European producers find themselves in.

“The recent dioxin feed scare has hit pig and poultry producers on mainland Europe hard with significant slumps in consumption creating an overhang on the market that is dragging prices down at a time when costs are flying upwards.

“Here in Scotland, soaring feed prices are hammering the margins being made on our pig farms and UK retailer support holds the key to profitable pig production. When asked, Scottish consumers have shown clear support for Scottish pork and bacon to be available on the shelves and retailers have an opportunity to meet that demand while underpinning the viability of the sector.

“We need all supermarkets to follow the Asda example and better recognise the rising cost of production. We need those same retailers to stand by our producers through this difficult period and not sell them out to cheaper, foreign imports. They have a chance to put the long-term interests of pig production in this country first rather than chasing the short-term gain presented by imported product.

“Retailers can also better recognise the higher welfare standards here in the UK where a ban on controversial sow stalls and tethers has been in place since the beginning of 1999 but will only come into force for other European pig producers at the beginning of 2013.

“Many European producers face the difficult decision of getting out of stalls and investing in the same kind of production systems found in the UK or getting out of pigs full stop. Given the current crash in the market, investment for some will be impossible and Europe should give some consideration to an out-goer’s scheme, so that those in Europe who do not see their future in pigs beyond 2012 have a way out of the sector.”

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