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A bitter disappointment

by 5m Editor
23 July 2003, at 12:00am

UK - The NPA Chairman, Richard Longthorp, comments on the latest BPEX report. The events of the past week and the events leading up to them together with the responses and comment flowing as a consequence come as a massive disappointment...

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THE VOICE OF THE UK PIG INDUSTRY

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & White-hall, and with pro-cessors, supermarkets & caterers – fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

...to all those people who still have aspirations for a truly integrated and, more importantly, sustainable pork chain.

The BPEX report on pork imports is excellent in its detail, comprehensive in its coverage and hence highly authoritative. But the conclusions probably come as no surprise to those at the coal face. Even when imports were significantly less than they are today there was clear evidence that the basic figures simply did not add up. However, this in no way devalues the report - in fact quite the opposite.

Those involved downstream of producers should take heed now and we await with interest the views of Sir Don Curry and Lord Whitty. Those involved in the pork chain who choose to ignore the report and its implications do so at their peril.

Investigative visits to, and photographs of many of the "offending" products displayed at, some of our major retailers undoubtedly fuelled the anger of producers who have seen prices plummet by over 15p/kg over the past few weeks.

Not only have levels of imported pork on the shelves significantly increased but some of the labelling seems to have gone back to the shenanigans of five years ago.

However, the "evidence" continues to be gathered and NPA has sought early meetings with all the major retailers. Some of that evidence will be used to demonstrate the problem and the concerns of producers not only to the retailers but also to Sir Don Curry and Lord Whitty.

It comes as a bitter disappointment to me, having witnessed the huge amount of effort that has been put in to creating more sustainable relationships with the retailers and processors starting with the Acid Test in early 2002, to see all that work and expectation borne of commitments previously given put so seriously at risk.

As previously reported, Acid Test 2 is now on hold and one of the main foundations of Sir Don Curry's report and recommendations itself now appears to be at risk of being trampled under the stampede of some retailers' short term rush for profit.

However, I would ask that producers allow a few weeks for NPA to once again try and (re)establish those relationships with the retailers and processors and hold back from any further disruptive action.

We understand the frustrations and the sheer anger at some of the displays that have been forwarded to NPA and can concur with Tesco at their frustration that they should be the unfortunate one targeted when at least one other retailer currently has a display that could only be described as "designed to intimidate" in their stores.

To read the full BPEX report, please visit our features section by clicking here

Source: National Pig Association - By Digby Scott - 23rd July 2003

5m Editor