A programme of DNA testing for pork and pigmeat products is being introduced in Northern Ireland as part of a move to counter a growing price differential between Ulster and the rest of the UK which industry leaders warn could lead to producers leaving the sector.
The DNA plan will involve building a databank of all boars that contribute to NI pigmeat production, making it possible to test products to confirm their local origin. That will, in turn, enable the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), who have initiated the programme, to identify companies which are using imported pigmeat and which “may not meet the animal health and welfare standards of Northern Ireland”.
UFU added that they would “expose anyone who is misleading consumers about the origin of their products”.
“I encourage all pig producers to fully cooperate with this DNA scheme to ensure that it is a success,” said UFU pork and bacon committee chairman, Jonathan Cuddy. “It will bring direct benefit to local pig producers, as we continue to develop a strong local market through our NI origin label and seek new opportunities for export growth.”
The Union is also including actions in its strategy to communicate the need for a justifiable producer pig price and to assist with the development of new export markets for longer term stability.
“We fully understand the external factors affecting NI farmers and processors, and the need to compete with cheaper imports, all of which has increased over the past number of weeks to unacceptable levels,” said Mr Cuddy. “The current price difference needs to be rectified as soon as possible, however, otherwise farmers may consider reducing their numbers or indeed leaving the industry.”