Meryl Ward celebrates the pig sector positives of 2016

Pig World has invited industry leaders to share their Christmas/New Year highs and lows from 2016, while also expressing a pig sector wish for 2017.  Today’s contribution is from AHDB Pork chair, Meryl Ward, MBE.

PW – What was your pig sector highlight/lowpoint of 2016?

MW – My highlight is the continued expansion of pork exports particularly to China but increasingly valued around the world for the British high welfare safe and traceable systems.

The opportunity to visit China and the Shanghai SIAL show demonstrated the strong demand for British pork from existing customers but also potential new markets. JD.Com, one of the largest B2C on-line retailers, was represented at the AHDB Pork evening reception and dinner, claiming over 100 million customers in China alone. The professionalism and expertise of the AHDB Pork staff in supporting our exporters around the world, and also working to access new markets is a credit to AHDB and a major advantage for our industry.

PW – What do you most hope will be achieved by UK pig producers in 2017?

MW – That producers will be better recognised and rewarded for the work that has gone into differentiating our industry.

The Real Welfare report will be published in early 2017 and will demonstrate unequivocally the high standards achieved on British farms. We are the only country to measure welfare outcomes on such a scale with over five million pigs assessed since the start of the scheme, and the results provide positive proof of the transparency of our industry and the high industry standards…..and from the pig’s perspective!

There is a value to ‘Britishness’ and the industry pundits that try and manipulate this down to the European level, are seriously undermining the long-term competitiveness of the industry.

PW – What one pig industry experience did you enjoy most in 2016?

MW – I have most enjoyed the humour, the entrepreneurial spirit and the sheer determination of the many pig industry people that I have been privileged to meet in the last year.

Three groups I would particularly like to mention are firstly, the NPA team who are just a fabulous force for good. Their achievements this year are too numerous to mention but the Chris Brant Award was incredibly well deserved for the industries very own brand of ‘girl power’.

Ladies in Pigs had another fantastic year with a stunning performance on Countryfile Live to nine million viewers.

Finally, the Harper Scholarship Scheme dinner was an opportunity to meet the brightest and best just starting out in our industry.

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

MW – Travelling in Europe has brought home to me how far ahead of its time our Red Tractor assurance Scheme has been. Many countries are now copying our Red Tractor scheme with their own tiers of differentiation with much of the work supported by either the Government and/or the retail supply chain.

Producers have a huge mountain to climb with the level of investment needed at farm level, and it would benefit the supply chain and Government to help the industry develop our differentiation further through helping producers with this next generation of investment. We have the skills and we have the people but we need confidence to make the investment a reality.

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