NPA chief exec calls for more retail backing for British pig producers

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies has called for retailers to do more to support British pig producers as they continue to struggle with pigs backed up on farms.

Zoe was interviewed on Radio 4’s Farming Today this morning, as the programme focused on the pig backlog. Producers Anna Longthorp and sisters Vicky Scott and Kate Moore highlighted how the backlog not only means having to spend more on feed at a time when feed prices are soaring, but also suffering price deductions due to pigs growing out of spec, making them worth less.

You can listen to the feature HERE (from about 8 mins 30 seconds)

While processing plants are now running more smoothly and slaughterings are well up on last year, thousands of pigs remained backed up on farms.

Dr Davies told the programme the NPA was calling for Defra to convene a second industry roundtable to address the situation as little had changed since the first one in February.

“At that roundtable, all the retailers said ‘there’s great demand for pork, particularly British as we are still in lockdown, so you give us the product and effectively we will sell it for you’,” she said.

“The only retailer that I am aware that stayed true to that word was Morrisons and they put on a big promotion. The business has taken a hit – they are still paying the same for the pigs they are buying and they are discounting the price to encourage the consumer to buy more British pork.

“I haven’t seen any similar behaviour with the rest of the supply chain and that is why we are asking Defra Ministers to put on another roundtable specifically for retailers to look at what they can do.”

Highlighting the issues with processing the backlog, Dr Davies said there were only so many animals that could go through the plants, unless the processors put on Saturday kills.

“There is very little opportunity for increasing the numbers of animals going through the plants. But what we are hearing – and it is even more concerning – is that where those large plants that suffered from COVID outbreaks and lost export markets like China, they are now starting to suggest that those plants are becoming unfeasible to run because they have lost such a big part of the value of that carcase.

“We must ensure that those processing plants do not reduce the amount of animals going through their plants because we will end up with an even bigger problem.”

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.