Christmas Q&A special – Chairman of Quality Pork Ltd, Scotland, Patrick Stephen

Patrick’s answers reveal his hopes for a bright future for Scottish pig producers, following the producer-backed purchase of Brechin abattoir in November.

Q1 – What was your pig sector highlight/lowpoint of 2014?

“The most disappointing thing for me in 2014 has been the market situation in the run up to Christmas, which is traditionally a time of rising prices. Whether you blame the Russian situation or poor demand, I think that the collapse in the euro has had the biggest effect on bringing the price down. I cannot remember a build-up to Christmas where the price has dropped like it has this year.”

“The highlight was definitely when we managed to set up Quality Pork Ltd (QPL) and get to the position where the co-operative was able to buy the plant at Brechin and come to an arrangement with Tulip who will run the plant. When the capacity is doubled we will have a modern plant capable of slaughtering a large proportion of the output in Scotland. We should have the chance to set up something a little different and form a partnership that will be to the benefit of both producers and processors.”

Q2 – What do you most hope will be achieved by UK pig producers in 2015?

“Apart from the recovery of prices to 2014 levels and a smooth development of the Brechin site, I hope that UK producers will continue to improve their physical performance. We have been improving significantly in recent years and I hope this continues. We need to be able to compete with the rest of Europe on the cost of production and this is the best way to do it.”

Q3 – What one pig industry experience did you enjoy most in 2015?

“I visited Brittany to look at buildings and ventilation design. Whenever I visit the Continent to look at pig production I am struck by their professionalism and their pride in being pig farmers. The attention to biosecurity, for example, was impressive as were the buildings. The food and wine was pretty good too!”

Q4 – Free pig sector comment – something you feel strongly about.

“I believe that the British pig industry needs to be a lot more positive and we need to be proud of what we do. We desperately need to attract young people into all levels of the industry and these people will not be attached to an industry which portrays itself as unprofitable and unrewarding. A pig enterprise can be an asset to any farm and in the past has often been a route into farming for many people. We have to get that back!”

Today’s tasty photo is from Sainsbury’s, whose current Porkwatch rating shows the supermarket stocking 100% British pork, 95% British ham and 90% British sausages.

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