Survey suggests four out of five pig farmers set to go bust

Survey suggests four out of five pig farmers set to go bust

A study by the National Pig Association (NPA) has predicted that four in every five pigmeat producers in Britain will go out of business within a year unless their financial situation improves.

The survey data suggests that there are still 100,000 pigs still on farms that should have gone to slaughter, and farmers are losing more than £50 per pig due to the gap between their cost of production and the price the supply chain is paying for pork.

Polling of British pig farmers by the NPA shows that 80% will not be able to survive the next 12 months unless this gap is significantly reduced.

According to the NPA, the pig industry has already lost an estimated 10% of its breeding herd as producers have left the industry or cut down on production.

To address the issue, the NPA has appealed to Tesco “to pay a fair price for pork or risk losing its British pork supply base forever.” In an open letter to its chief executive Ken Murphy, NPA chairman Rob Mutimer stressed that Tesco, given its scale, is uniquely positioned to act to prevent the “destruction of the UK pig sector”.

NPA believes retailers “hold the key to injecting more money into the supply chain” and several of Tesco’s competitors have responded to NPA calls to increase their pig price. The Co-op, M&S, Aldi, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are now paying more for British pork through their supply chains.

Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, is yet to respond to its pig suppliers.

Prevent sector destruction

In the letter, Mutimer asks the Tesco boss for the retailer’s support. He said: “The problems facing the sector have been building for some time and have arisen through no fault of the primary producers.”

Mutimer said that by 2023, British pork will be in such short supply that most retailers will no longer be able to source it.

He stressed that Tesco is in a unique position to help because of its UK market share and volume of pork sales. He said: “A relatively modest investment by Tesco will not only prevent the destruction of the sector, but it will mean that British pork will still be available at a price affordable to your customers. Paying a little more today is likely to save you money in the long term.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time and each week that passes puts pig farmers further into the red.

“I fully appreciate that every part of the supply chain is under strain from inflationary pressures and your customers are struggling with the cost of living. However, I am sure that shoppers and shareholders alike would want you to back British farmers and ensure that we can supply you with fantastic pork for decades to come.”

The NPA is also urging its members to write to Tesco directly to make a similar request, whilst copying in their local MP.

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