Pig processor shortages “an absolute crisis”, says NPA
Chief executive of the National Pig Association (NPA), Dr Zoe Davies warned that British retailers may “look elsewhere” for their pork if the current labour shortages are not dealt with soon.
The number of pigs estimated to be destroyed due to backlogs along the food supply chain is up from 70,000 in recent weeks to 100,000.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Davies said that “the big problem” facing the pig industry at the moment is the lack of workers in processing plants. She explained that a lot of current workers are from Eastern Europe and that they are “going home”, leading to a lack of workers to keep up with the current processing demand.
Pigs being left on farms longer than they should, Davies said, is leading to “an absolute crisis” for the pig industry. Davies said: “For the last six to eight weeks, all of the major processors have been cutting their kills by up to 25%.”
Davies also warned that shortages would have a knock-on effect on the sale of British pork, stating that the issues could lead to supermarkets importing pork to keep up with consumer demand. She explained: “We have the pigs; we have the product. However, if the processors are unable to supply the volumes that are required, the likelihood is that [retailers] will start to look elsewhere.”
Currently, EU pork is trading at 30p per kilo less than UK pork. Davies puts the difference in price down to issues in Europe such as the cases of African Swine Fever that have affected the German market.
She added: “It’s the perfect excuse for retailers to ship in much cheaper European pork as opposed to British.”