Pig industry ‘perfect storm’ makes international headlines

The international media is taking a growing interest in the ‘perfect storm’ the UK pig sector finds itself in as a result of Brexit disruption and ongoing issues in pork plants. 

NPA staff, officeholders and members have discussed the issues over the past days with outlets ranging from the international broadcaster Al Jazeera and German publication TAZ to various local broadcasting channels and the farming media. There has just been an inquiry from the New York Times.

You can read more on the NPA website.

The industry is facing what NPA chairman Richard Lister has described as a ‘perfect storm’ of events that is creating a backlog of pigs on farms that is proving difficult to clear.

Pork plants continue to be affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, reducing weekly throughputs and causing pigs to be rolled. This has been compounded by new Brexit checks and paper-based certification requirements at borders, which have caused delays, in some cases resulting in shipments not reaching their destinations.

But these checks are not being applied to imports from the EU as the UK is phasing in its checks – at a time when EU pork is particularly cheap due to surpluses across the EU caused by COVID-19 outbreaks and Germany’s ASF export ban.

Meanwhile, UK pig prices are falling and costs of production are rising, with many producers either already losing money or expecting to be operating on negative margins soon.

The NPA, which is talking to processors, is calling for a cross-industry approach to addressing the backlog of pigs on farm.

Along with the British Meat Processors Association, is urging the Government to take steps to speed up the process of certifying meat products, including by digitising the system.

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About The Author

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.