The NPA is urging pig producers to make their voices heard loud and clear, as Defra gathers evidence for its review of the pork supply chain.
The NPA ran a series of focus group discussions and an online survey, now closed, in August, and continues to liaise with members on a one-to-one basis to inform our industry-wide response to the consultation. But it is also keen for as many producers as possible to respond individually to help build a powerful case for change.
The consultation is seeking views on current contractual arrangements and what changes could be made to deliver a fairer supply chain.
Writing in the September issue of Pig World, chief executive Lizzie Wilson said: “We need as representative a response as possible, and as many voices falling in behind us to ram that collective message home, loud and clear; the supply chain as it stands, is broken.
“It has stopped functioning, for one reason or another, to serve and sustain each link within. Risk and reward are not proportionately distributed and we cannot continue.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the pig sector, which we absolutely cannot waste. We have battled and battled for government to listen to us on this, so it’s now up to us to answer as otherwise there’ll be no change to the status quo and we’ll not be forgiven by those who gave us the chance.”
Responding to the consultation
The consultation, published in July, runs until October 7. You can respond to it HERE
There are 44 questions, seeking views on issues such as transparency, price reporting, clarity of contractual terms and conditions, and market consolidation.
The NPA has issued guidance on how to respond, which members can access on its website.
Lizzie she stressed that even just working through ticking the yes/no boxes to build a picture of your business and its relations with customers will be ‘immensely valuable’. “The strength of the response will demonstrate the significance of the issue and perpetuate the necessary change,” she said.
About the review
The review notes that the pig sector has seen significant challenges in recent years, and notes that stakeholders have suggested ‘there is a lack of transparency between processors and producers, and that a more consistent approach across processors may bring positive benefits to the sector’.
“The purpose of this consultation is to gather evidence about how supply arrangements in the pig sector currently function and to explore the nature of the relationships between the various parties in the supply chain. It is also seeking views on whether the functioning of the supply chain can be improved,” the overview states.
It observes that pig producers in the UK tend to be small, individual businesses supplying highly consolidated businesses further up the supply chain who command substantial shares of the market.
“This disparity can make pig producers vulnerable to unfair trading practices. The Agriculture Act 2020 introduced the ‘Fair Dealings Powers’ which are designed to address any unfair practices, enabling Government to introduce regulations to oversee the relationship between producers and buyers where necessary,” it added.
There is, without doubt a political will for change, following a similar process in the dairy, which has resulted in new legislation being drafted to oversee contractual relations.
Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said: “I am a firm believer in ‘Buy British’ and supporting our domestic pig producers, and a fair and transparent supply chain is paramount. I hope the industry engages fully with this consultation so that we can help to address the challenges that they are facing.”