NPA calls on retailers to save British pork supply

NPA calls on retailers to save British pork supply

The National Pig Association (NPA) is calling on retailers to significantly increase the price they pay for pork, following “an unprecedented spike” in feed costs.

NPA said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted a dramatic leap in the price of wheat. It now stands in the region of £300/tonne, compared with around £215/tonne just a few days ago.

The Association reported that pig farmers, who have already faced more than a year of financial losses, are currently losing tens of thousands of pounds per week and face a “serious and imminent risk” of being unable to afford to feed their pigs and keep their businesses going.

NPA estimated that pig farmers, on average, have lost £25/pig in the first half of 2021, increasing to an £39/pig in the final quarter. This was a result of a ‘perfect storm’ of a falling pig price, combined with record feed costs, compounded by having to feed heavier pigs for longer due to the pig backlog.

At an NPA meeting held this week, pig producers highlighted the challenges of the current situation:

  • One producer said his business’s overall costs of production had risen from 160p/kg in December to over 200p/kg now and are likely to go higher. Others put similar, or higher, figures on current production cost.
  • Others pointed out that producers have not been buying as much feed forward as usual as prices were already at record levels, meaning they are hugely exposed to the higher wheat price, up £80/tonne in a few days, with potentially more to come.
  • Concerns were expressed that many farmers are reaching their credit insurance limit for feed which will mean that soon feed companies will be unable to supply feed.
  • There are still many pigs backed up on farms which risks making an already dire situation far worse.

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer said: “We are staring down the barrel of a total collapse of the British pig industry, which is not only a tragedy for the producers, themselves, but will leave UK consumers short of one of their favourite and most versatile meats. Retailers will not be able to rely on EU pork, either, as it gets shorter in supply and more expensive.”

He added: “They need to act now to ensure that they can continue to secure our high quality British pork – we haven’t got long.”

The NPA is asking retailers to ensure they pay enough to at least cover pig farmers’ costs of production. It said: “This is essential, not only to help ensure the survival of the British pig sector but, with EU pig numbers falling and prices rapidly rising, to maintain their supply of pork, bacon, sausages, ham and other pigmeat products to consumers.”

More than £2/kg is needed to allow producers to break even, which is around 70p/kg above the current price they are being paid.

The Association also reiterated its calls for a financial support package from Defra, as has been provided in other parts of the UK and Europe, and is urging the department to keep the pressure on retailers to take action now.

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