Soaring costs continue to cast a huge shadow over the pig sector, as more producers are forced out of the industry, despite rising prices, regional producer representatives told the latest NPA Pig Industry Group (PIG) meeting.
The main focus of the latest NPA Pig Industry Group (PIG) meeting, held at Stoneleigh on Tuesday, was the NPA’s response to Defra’s consultation on its pork supply chain review.
Producer and allied industry representatives discussed how to present a strong unified industry response, based on the NPA’s focus groups, producer survey and individual interaction with members, to help bring about real change and give producers a stronger footing in the supply chain.
There was also a clear message from all present encouraging producers to submit their own individual responses.
NPA chairman Rob Mutimer said: “The NPA is working hard to formulate a response to the Defra consultation that reflects the views of our diverse membership and that the whole industry can get behind. After all, we all hold the same goal of using this unique opportunity to bring about a fairer and more sustainable pork supply chain.
“It is equally important, however, that producers respond individually, outlining your own current situation and what you want from future contractual relations with your buyer or buyers. The louder our voice, the stronger case we have for change.”
Short-term survival concerns
Defra’s recent June Agricultural survey for England, showed a 17% drop in the breeding herd in the year to June 2022 – a loss of more than 50,000 sows in the space of just 12 months, and it appears that this figure is likely to grow as more and more producers are forced out in the current financial climate.
Regional NPA producer representatives painted a bleak picture of the mood within the sector. “There is a general gloominess out there from most of the producers I speak to and more producers are talking of going out,” the Eastern representative said.
“Some producers are still getting pigs rolled and a few people are also worried about the rising price of CO2 for processors and how that might be passed down the supply chain to the producer.
“We have had a good harvest and there is a lot of straw, although it is very brittle and dry.”
It was a similar story across the regions. “There is just a general unease about what’s coming,” the South Central representative said, citing the record cost of feed and rising energy price in particular.
Another producer from the region added: “Producers just don’t see how it is going to change going forward.”
These comments were echoed by the Northern and Midlands representatives, who both cited the soaring costs producers are enduring. The Midlands representative also noted that some herds have suffered in the hot weather.
The national mood was summed up by the marketing group representative, who commented there were many ‘nervous, anxious producers questioning whether there is a future in the industry’.
The allied industry feed sector representative described the market was as ‘pretty horrible’, as high cereal and soya prices persist.
“Soya jumped a little bit yesterday (Monday) because of projections of the US crop being down a bit. Overall, it’s not pretty but it’s a lot little more stable than it has been. Certainly, Ukraine shipments of cereals have helped a little with the price,” she said.
Other allied industry representatives, including from the pharmaceutical and buildings and equipment sectors, explained how the sustained financial losses and a lack of confidence among producers was having a big impact on businesses across the wider industry.