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UK’s National Pig Association warns that staff shortages could undercut domestic pork market

National Pig Association (NPA) chief executive Zoe Davies has told BBC Radio 4 that on-going staff shortages in pork processing plants could lead to an influx of cheaper pork imports from the European Union.

7 September 2021, at 8:47am

Davies explained to BBC Radio 4’s Today program that lack of staff at pork plants means that abattoirs cannot process the existing pig supply on a weekly basis. Many members of the meat industry are from Eastern Europe and left the UK after the Brexit transition period.

Davies said, “For the last six to eight weeks, all of the major processors have been cutting their kills by up to 25%, leading to pigs being kept on farms for far longer than they should be and that is leading to an absolute crisis for us on the pig side.”

The situation is likely to lead to more pork imports from the EU since consumer demand in the UK has remained steady. If UK processors cannot meet it, consumers will likely opt for imported pork. She explained, “We have the pigs, we have the product and the British public wants to buy British pork. However, if the processors are unable to supply the volumes that are required, the likelihood is they will start to look elsewhere.”

She warned that, with soaring costs of production and falling prices – producers lost between £24-£26/pig in the first half of 2021 – pig farmers are in an ‘increasingly desperate situation’.

“They are getting very stressed out and we are heading towards a situation where healthy animals may well need to be destroyed. This is putting people’s future at risk,” Zoe added.

Listen to the full interview here.