Pork producers across the world, including the British
Pig Executive (BPEX), have joined forces to tackle the
threat to the industry posed by rocketing feed prices.
Representatives of major national pork bodies met at the
4th International Meat Secretariat (IMS) World Pork Conference
in Nanjing, China, which finished last week.
Wheat prices, one of the main constituents of pig feed,
have doubled over the last 12 months and pig producers
need a rise in what they are paid or the industry will
go into meltdown.
At present they are losing anything up to £26 for
every pig they send to slaughter.
BPEX Chief Executive Mick Sloyan, who is also vice-chairman
of the IMS Pork Committee, was a in the group which drew
up a joint statement on the crisis. The statement reads: "Immediate
lifts in wholesale and retail prices, and producer returns,
are required for industry survival.
"The most significant issue is that of feed costs,
for most producers feed costs represent more than 70% of
pork production costs.
"Worldwide grain prices have more than doubled as
a result of poor harvests associated with difficult climatic
conditions, but the most significant impact has been caused
by the massive growth in demand for grain to produce biofuels,
and in many countries there are significant biofuel subsidies
which are further fueling this demand.
"Producer delegates spanning four continents said
they are currently carrying substantial losses on every
pig produced and given this scenario that there is already
a large number of producers leaving the industry and more
will follow. Producers are looking at all options to increase
efficiency but in the short term those efficiency gains
will fall far short of what is required to stop the significant
"Producers see two possible scenarios unfolding.
Firstly a significant drop in production worldwide due
to producers exiting the industry followed by a dramatic
increase in wholesale and retail prices, well above current
levels as has been observed in China over the last year.
"The second scenario is to work with consumers, the
food service sector, and retailers to increase prices paid
to producers now. Increasing prices to producers now, would
allow production to be maintained and would mean that wholesale
and retail prices would not need to increase so greatly
in the medium term. "This scenario appears to be the
best for all parties. Consumers will still have pork available
at reasonable prices, the food service sector and retailers
will be able to satisfy their customers with adequate supplies
and farmers will be able to continue in business."
Producers are calling on consumers, the food service sector
and retailers to provide that support immediately and will
be talking to retailers in their respective countries to
explore how this can be done."
The organisations involved are: Canadian Pork Council,
British Pig Executive, South African Pork Producers Organisation,
New Zealand Pork Industry Board, Australian Pork Ltd, Nederlandse
Vakbond Varkenshouders (Dutch Union of Pig farmers), the
LTO, the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture
and the French Porcine National Federation, FNP.
Mick Sloyan said: "This shows it is not just a problem
for the British industry but something of worldwide concern
which must be tackled on a global basis.
"In Britain we have already seen a start to pig meat
price rises in some shops and supermarkets but it is vital
those rises get back down the supply chain to the producer
as fast as possible."
Goes Whole Hog on behalf of British Pig Farmers
British Pork - We'll Pay More Say Shoppers
Minister In Talks To Help Pig Industry