The NPA is urging retailers and consumers to back British pig farmers, as the long-running industry crisis threatens to leave retail shelves shelve short of British pork products over the festive period.
Pig producers lost, on average, an unsustainable £52/pig in the second quarter of this year, following losses of £59/pig in Q1. After seven successive quarters of negative margins, producers have lost, collectively, £600 million since the autumn of 2020, according to AHDB estimates.
The financial woes are continuing through this quarter, while pig prices have continued to rise, they have failed to keep pace with soaring feed and energy costs.
Defra’s June Agricultural census showed a massive 17% reduction in the English pig breeding herd on the back of these financial woes, which industry data suggests is mirrored on a UK-wide basis and is already being reflected in the number of young pigs coming into the supply chain.
NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson has warned that there could be am shortage of favourite British pork products over the Christmas festive period, unless things change rapidly. This would reduce consumer choice and leave the supply chain more reliant on EU imports, which are currently increasing in price on the back of shortages across Europe, to fill the gaps.
Reports from those involved in the marketing of pigs suggest demand for British pork, against the backdrop of the consumer price squeeze, is ‘sluggish’ at the moment, with EU imports still a cheaper option, despite the rising EU prices.
With more and more producers feeling the strain amid weekly reports of more businesses quitting the industry, the NPA is urging retailers and consumers to do their bit to save the British pig sector by sourcing and buying British wherever they can.
This could give some producers the lift some need to stay in business, and in the long-term benefit everyone – producers, processors, retailers and, above all, consumers, who will continue to have the choice of high quality, high welfare, environmentally-friendly Red Tractor-assured British pork.
NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson said: “As pig farmers continue to lose money following a two-year struggle, sadly increasing numbers are having to make the very difficult decision to reduce their herd or close – as reflected in the nearly 20% reduction in the national breeding herd according to Defra’s June census.
“This will potentially mean less British pork available on the supermarket shelf in the run-up to Christmas.
“It is a challenging time for everyone, not just our pig farmers, but what will help is for retailers to continue to support our domestic supply by buying British Red Tractor pork wherever possible, and for shoppers to buy British too.
“Pork is still very competitively priced and so provides excellent value for money when budgets are increasingly being squeezed.”