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    Save Our Bacon - Pig Industry in Crisis
17/01/08

British Pig Farmers today launched a £1.5m, national advertising campaign in an attempt to save their industry by winning a fairer price for their pigs.

© www.bpex.org.uk

pigs

The adverts, which will appear across national newspapers, from Thursday 17 January, carry the line "Save a rare breed from extinction. No we don't mean the pig."

The pig industry is facing meltdown due to massive increases in feed prices caused by rocketing world wheat prices, which have led to price rises for other foods such as bread. The majority of farmers are now selling every pig they rear at a loss of up to more than £20. The industry as a whole faces potential losses of £200 million in the next year.

A campaign, started by the British Pig Executive (BPEX) last year, has succeeded in persuading supermarkets to begin to raise prices on a range or pork and pork products. But little of this extra money has been passed all the way down the chain to farmers. The aim of the current advertising campaign is to help win a bigger share for farmers.

Without an increased price many farms will be forced to stop pig production altogether. A survey by the National Pig Association showed that 95% of farmers are considering stopping production if the price they receive does not improve. This would lead to a shortage of pig meat in the long term and potentially steep rises in the retail price of pork, sausages, bacon and ham.

Consumers would also see reduced choice in high welfare products as British farmers have amongst the highest welfare standards in the World. EU countries supplying the UK are not legally obliged to meet these UK minimum legal standards, as a result an estimated 70% of all imports would be illegal to produce in the UK.

The campaign calls on consumers to support farmers by selecting pork and pork products that carry the British Pork Quality Standard Mark on pack. Consumers can also register their support for the campaign by visiting www.pigsareworthit.com

BPEX Chairman Stewart Houston said: "Retail prices have begun to rise and two national surveys have shown that consumers are happy to pay these modest increases to help farmers. But these rises have not been widely passed all the way down the supply chain to farmers.

"Rises have got to reach the bottom of the chain or the industry will go into meltdown. Farmers need to see at least 130p per kilo by Easter to survive. At the current price of 110p they are losing up to £26 on every pig produced.

"We realise that a lot of people in Britain are having to tighten their belts at the moment. But these are exceptional circumstances for pig farmers, caused by massive increases in the price of feed across the World.

"If a large number of farmers do quit the industry there simply won't be enough quality pig meat to meet consumer demand. Prices will rise sharply and there will be less high welfare pork on supermarket shelves. By then it will be too late. Once farmers have taken the decision to quit the industry the investment required to recommence pig production is likely to be prohibitive."

For further details visit www.pigsareworthit.com

  • A report "The impact of Feed Costs on the British Pig Industry" provides full details of the implications of high feed prices. The full report is available online at www.bpex.org.uk
  • The dramatic increase in feed prices has been caused by a number of factors, principally the doubling of world wheat prices. This is due to poor harvests in many of the World's wheat producing regions, increased demand from China and India, and greater demand from the biofuels industry. Industry experts predict that high wheat prices will prevail for at least the next 12 months.
  • BPEX commissioned two consumer surveys from YouGov Plc - August and December, 2007. Both surveys indicated that consumers were prepared to pay more for pork and pork products to support British pig farmers.
  • Quality Standard Mark - The UK has an independently audited quality assurance scheme for pig meat, which covers all aspects of production, including animal welfare. All pork, gammon, bacon, ham and sausages produced under this scheme carry the distinctive British Meat Quality Standard Mark (QSM) on pack. EU countries supplying the UK are not legally obliged to meet these UK minimum legal standards, as a result an estimated 70% of all imports fail to do so.

link Positive Signs From Pig Producers
link NADIS Pig Health Report for December 2007
link Cashing in on Great Pig Ideas

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British Pork Quality Standard