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Dare you work with us? challenges processor

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

UK - Are pig producers brave enough to trust and work with their processor? This was the challenge thrown down by Dalehead commercial director Andrew Saunders at today's NPA "Making It Happen" conference at Stoneleigh.

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"Listen to what we are saying. Come on board with it," he said. "Don't be frightened. We know what your costs are."

He couldn't guarantee profit (processors were no better off than producers) but he was positive it was better for pig producers to work with their customer. "Please come along with us. We have got to go where the retailer takes us. It is essential we keep close to the retailer and producers need to stick close to us."

In particular he urged pig producers to work with Dalehead to identify new ideas to excite retailers. "We are very, very keen to have new ideas to position with our customers."

And he called on efficient producers not to be nervous about sharing knowledge with other producers. "You're not competing with us or them. You're competing with Denmark, Spain and Brazil."

In a frank exchange that would have been unthinkable in the British pig industry a few years ago, he said he particularly wanted producers to open their minds to the idea of keeping abattoirs informed about how many pigs they would be sending in the months ahead.

Dalehead had an advantage in knowing how many pigs were coming through its own production, although it was still possible to be out on a Friday by plus or minus 500 pigs.

"It would be great if our independent supply base had confidence to tell their marketing groups how many pigs they have served."

He wryly accepted it was not going to be easy to persuade producers to part with this information, not just once but regularly. "We're not going to nail payments to a five month forecast but it would give us a useful feeling of what to expect."

Abattoirs needed repeatability from their suppliers, he said. "We've got hundreds of people standing by, waiting for the meat to turn up."

There was a fear that if retailers knew a shortage was looming, they would buy elsewhere. But in fact the opposite was true. If the industry didn't plan ahead and provide advance information to its customers, it made it easier for retailers to decide to buy from abroad.

"The more we can tell them about what's coming, the less the chance of them going down that route," said Andrew Saunders.

Roll up for the Saunders 3100 challenge

"I'll give you," said Andrew Saunders (as he rocked back on his heels in disbelief) " 3100 if you can show me anyone who can produce pigs at 60p a kilo."

He was responding to a claim from the audience that a producer's audited accounts showed a CoP of 60p a kilo.

"I'm sorry. I just don't believe it," said Andrew Saunders.

But if someone did have the skills to produce pigs at that price, he said, the challenge for the industry was to persuade him to share the information.

"The issue is taking that knowledge and sharing it across the industry. The guy isn't competing with us. He's competing against Denmark, Spain and Brazil."

NPA chairman Richard Longthorp agreed. "If the industry is to survive then those who can do 60p need to collaborate.

"The industry cannot sustain this last man standing attitude. If we don't collaborate this industry is buggered. It's as simple as that."

Source: National Pig Association - Digby Scott - 22nd October 2003

5m Editor