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The UK Pig Industry in 2020?

by 5m Editor
1 January 2012, at 12:00am

Executive summary of the report by Helen Thoday based on her Nuffield Scholarship study into the future of the UK pig industry in 2011. A link s given to the full report.

Executive Summary

I wondered what the UK industry would look like in year 2020 and where, in the global pork supply picture, it would fit. In the last decade the industry has coped with disease, decline, unique legislation and assurance. The outcome has been polarised production systems, niche markets and an entrepreneurial attitude for those who remain, which makes it unique in the global pork market.

I travelled to the UK’s biggest threats to pork production: Brazil, China and Thailand and also our closest neighbours: France and Ireland. One thing that struck me in all these countries was their flexibility to expand. Although the pork profit margins were still not high in a lot of countries the potential for growth was. Sensible choices on environmental legislation, welfare regulations and feeding options had been made by governments to benefit the pigs, the producers and the consumers.

The UK is a mature market and little can now be done to go back on the legislations that have already been passed so instead we need a stronger message about what we are doing that is different to the rest of the world. The Red Tractor is key here and more needs to be done to link the final product to the rural backdrop in which it is produced, as Brazil does, for example by placing red tractor logos on farm signs.

We should be concentrating on areas we can control and there are some areas that can be targeted such as reducing feed costs through alternative proteins. Although there are barriers to better pig prices from retail forces, we have shoppers who still care about where their food comes from. Words such as "local" and "high welfare" are still strong in a recession and we should be proud of that.

We do need support from government over planning, stall ban import restrictions and processed animal proteins but we can still do more on?farm to improve output. It is likely that there will be more turbulent times ahead; the last decade has led pig producers to adapt and survive. If some of my recommendations are followed, we could easily change this to adapt and thrive.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

January 2012