November 2014: Time to get people eating pork

What a difference a few weeks makes. Lack of demand across Europe for pig meat, coupled with better than usual production and the continued Russian ban, means that we’re literally awash with pork. I keep getting reports of pigs being rolled, out-of-spec overweight pigs to feed, no demand on the spot market and processors cutting kills. It’s not a good place to be, especially when traditionally this is the time of year when demand is supposed to increase.

So, what do we do about it? Well, the NPA team isn’t known for sitting around poking at their belly buttons, and we’re certainly not doing that now. The most important thing we and our European colleagues need to do is get people eating more pork. It sounds simple, but really isn’t. We certainly need BPEX’s sparkly new marketing team to jump into action as soon as possible and we’ll be expecting great things from them in the months to come.

Following continued pressure from the European farmer’s representative COPA-COGECA, the European Commission has recently changed the regulations on promotion in order to boost trade with existing markets and open up new trading areas in third countries. The changes will reduce the contribution from governments, which has always been a blocker in the past, and allow companies and producer organisations like BPEX to meet some of the cost.

Bizarrely, the UK Government objected, however it has since confirmed it intends to make use of the regulation despite its initial objection. This is helpful, but will take time.

Closer to home, the NPA will continue to remind retailers of their stated commitment to British produce – which they still tell us is there when we meet with them. What we need YOU to do is let us know if you see things in supermarkets that aren’t right, whether through poor labelling or foreign product being sold by retailers who use the British message as a major selling point. Take a picture and send it to us!

On the lobbying front, we’ve been involved in the All Party Parliamentary Group for Eggs, Pigs and Poultry evidence sessions on planning, antibiotics and welfare. Chaired by MP Neil Parish, the sessions give industry and other organisations the opportunity to share some of the issues that they have on the three topics and give evidence to a panel of MP’s.

The first meeting on planning was useful in that MPs were given a really good understanding of the problems that face farmers today. In the spirit of fairness, the panel had given an opportunity to Farms not Factories campaign leader Tracey Worcester to give evidence. The fact that she was a no-show – because she’d apparently “forgotten” that the session was on – to me shows exactly why these groups will never succeed. When it comes to the crunch, they really don’t have any credible evidence that would stand up to scrutiny!

I’m giving evidence at the welfare session, so it’ll be interesting to see who I’m up against.

> Dr Zoë Davies is chief executive of the NPA. For more information visit: www.npa-uk.org.uk

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