NPA Warns of Pig Meat Shortage at Some Retailers

UK - The lack of support from some supermarkets for the pig industry may cause imminent shortages of local pig meat.
calendar icon 16 May 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

Despite their claims to support the British pig industry, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's have failed to put any extra money into the supply chain, according to the National Pig Association (NPA). As a result, their customers face the prospect of not being able to buy all the British pork, sausages and bacon they want next week, because sufficient supplies will not be available.

NPA chairman, Stewart Houston, said last week: "We warned them this would happen, but they refused too listen. They are fixated on their own short-term margins."

Feed prices are expected to remain high for another year at least, because of poor planting and growing conditions around the world. And straw could be unobtainable next year, because of the current drought in England.

If producers do not return to break-even in the next few weeks the industry will increasingly be unable to meet demand for British pork and pork products.

Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's may be able to fill the empty spaces on their shelves by importing more pork but it will be of lower welfare and assurance quality, and it will not be cheap, as the continental herd is contracting too.

In Britain Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's are the three large supermarkets that have failed to recognise the looming supply crisis, says NPA.

They have told producers in numerous meetings that they will help drive up the price through special promotions and by diverting more of their spend from imported pork to higher-welfare home-produced pork.

But they have been telling processors a different story – that they intend to maintain their margins at all cost. Despite their claims to support British pork, they have failed to put an extra penny into the supply chain.

All of the 15p rise over recent weeks has come from processors, and now abattoirs are losing money, as well as producers.

Unlike Waitrose, M&S, Morrisons and the Co-op, the biggest retailers – Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's – have failed to listen to the arguments of pig producers for a fair and responsible supply chain.

As a result the 'Pigs Are Still Worth It' campaign, NPA and British Pig Industry Support Group (BPISG) will work together to aggressively confront these retailers, because they are presiding over the imminent collapse of British pig production.

Action is planned:

  • The 'Pigs Are Still Worth It' campaign will major on the consumer and trade press.
  • NPA will organise a campaign of letter writing in which producers will tell retailers: "If I don't hear from you soon I'll give it one last try to get an answer by dropping in to see you in your office."
  • BPISG will organise the first event at which producers 'drop in' to present their case. This will be a mass rally outside Asda headquarters in Leeds, with as much accompanying publicity as possible.
  • The Pig World web site will seek new, more aggressive Banners Blitz slogans, explaining how greedy Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's are threatening the future of family farms.
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