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Realism and stoicism but serious concerns for the outdoor sector

by 5m Editor
26 September 2007, at 8:33am

UK - The Swan Hotel In Harleston, Norfolk was packed to the rafters with worried East Anglian pig producers last night. The regional NPA meeting had an atmosphere of resilience, tarnished by despair as pig farmers continue to fight to survive.

Four processors were at the meeting - a move supported unanimously by farmers. All four stressed that they too were fighting for the industry - and were forthright about what they need to see happen to the market. They are robustly telling retailers that they need to act swiftly. There is a desperate need for stepped increases to the pig price if the UK industry is to survive and continue supplying them with high quality, safe pigmeat.

Local processor John Norris of Lamberts, Bungay, supplies independent retailers and butchers. He said that his customers were well aware prices had to go up. But he feared the market would win the day and there would have to be a cut in production before prices reached a sustainable level.

Another producer Chris Leamon said he would continue to produce pigs if it made financial sense - otherwise he would rent out his buildings for storage, which would probably provide a much better income.

The outcome of the meeting was a prevailing view that pig producers would not risk bankruptcy by struggling through 12 months of loss-making prices. They had fought hard for many years, invested to comply with welfare codes, burgeoning legislation and to improve health status. The current situation was proving to difficult for many herds an closure seemed inevitable - unless the price increased substantially.

NPA's Ian Campbell said it was very easy for those in outdoor pigs to just quietly quit when the time came, but that was not the case for indoor business. Also, with a decline in the outdoor sector the British high-welfare outdoor pork trade would suffer. This product line dominates the multiple retailers quality brands and UK supplies of this class of pigmeat could disappear, he added.

Pictured above: Processors Dan Day, of Grampian Foods, Mark Haighton, of Geo Adams, and Andrew Saunders, of Tulip. Also pictured is Ian Campbell, of NPA, and Howard Revell, NPA regional chairman for East Anglia.

5m Editor