One tenth of British pig herds at risk as producers highlight rising cost of feed
PIG producers have warned that the surge in the price of wheat and soya could result in the loss of 10 per cent of UK pig-meat production by Christmas as they find themselves unable to afford feed for their animals.
A National Pig Association survey found the only way to stop this loss of production would be a rise in prices to compensate for higher feed costs.
British pig farmers have faced a 25 per cent increase in the cost of pig feed’s main ingredients, including wheat and soya, in recent weeks as a result of poor crop-growing conditions, particularly in the United States.
In a tactic similar to that used recently by the milk sector, the NPA yesterday urged shoppers to support the pig-meat industry over the months ahead.
“If supermarkets see a surge in demand for British products, they may be persuaded to pay our farmers the few extra pennies a kilo more they need to cover their soaring feed bills,” said NPA general manager Dr Zoe Davies. The NPA acknowledged that empty spaces on supermarket shelves could be filled with imported bacon and sausages but it pointed out that these would not be produced to British welfare standards.
Commenting on the supply situation, Stuart Ashworth, market analyst for Quality Meat Scotland, said European pig prices were currently edging up and were about 7-8 per cent higher than they were 12 months ago.
However, when converted to sterling values they were 4-5 per cent lower than last year. This, of course, made European pig meat cheaper on the UK market as well as making it “more challenging” for UK processors to export to Europe.
But, observed Mr Ashworth, currency turmoil has also made European pig meat more competitive on international markets and sales by EU processors outwith the EU are running ahead of levels the year before.
He said: “With the UK perhaps looking less attractive, despite currency movements, the volume of imports of pig meat into the UK trailed last year’s levels through May, and the volume of pig meat available on the UK market was slightly lower than last year.
“Another factor in supply is the forthcoming EU ban on sow stalls, with several member states admitting they will not meet the end of 2012 deadline. Uncertainty still remains as to how some EU states will adapt to full implementation of stalls and tether legislation on 1 January 2013 and there may be some liquidation of herds ahead of this date.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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