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Producers on the Brink; Call for Protection of Sector

by 5m Editor
17 February 2011, at 9:08am

IRELAND - Speaking yesterday (Wednesday) at the launch of the Bord Bia campaign to Bring Home the Bacon, aimed at increasing the share of the home market for pig producers, IFA Pigs Committee Chairman Tim Cullinan warned that jobs were on the line unless prices improve.

Currently pig producers in Ireland are losing up to €15 on every pig sold. Losses of this magnitude have been incurred now for a number of months since the price of feeding the pig started rising exponentially last year. The cost of these losses to the countries pig producers is almost €1m per week, according to Mr Cullinan.

Mr Cullinan said, “Some producers have already decided, or have been forced, to cease production due to rising costs and rising debts. The loss of this production could potentially put some of our factories in jeopardy and ultimately the livelihoods of the people employed in the industry upstream and downstream of the farm.“

The IFA Pigs Chairman said, “Considering the pressure on farmers, the success of the promotion being launched today by Bord Bia is crucial. Over the last number of weeks, IFA together with Bord Bia and the Irish primary processors have met with the retailers to highlight the crisis situation on Irish pig farms. We are calling on them to increase the volume of Irish meat that they stock. It is vital also that food service outlets, restaurants and butchers also increase the volume of Irish meat that they purchase.

“Most importantly we are calling on the Irish consumer to pick pig meat products carrying the Bord Bia Quality Assurance (QA) Logo when doing their weekly shopping. The logo can be found in all retailers on pork, bacon, sausages and hams. The QA logo is the consumer’s guarantee of traceability and quality and making the choice to purchase meat with the logo will also guarantee the future of the Irish pig meat industry. It will also safeguard the associated jobs and the potential to contribute to the economic recovery of the country as outlined in the Food Harvest 2020 Strategy.“

Consumers urged to buy Irish pork and bacon

IrishTimes.com reports that Irish consumers have been urged to protect the threatened Irish pigmeat industry by purchasing Irish products over the next six months.

Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter said yesterday the huge rise in pig feed costs and poor returns from the market mean this period would be crucial to the survival of the sector, which was worth €1 billion a year to the Irish economy.

He was launching the “Bring Home the Bacon“ campaign, intended to illustrate the importance of knowing the origin of our pigmeat products and to support the pig farming industry.

“For the pigmeat sector, with its high dependence on feed inputs and production time-lags, losses are being incurred as it seeks to adapt to the changing cost structures,“ said Mr Cotter.

“Our latest campaign is designed to support the industry and surmount this difficult period of six months.“

Mr Cullinan said Ireland’s 450 pig producers were losing almost €1 million a week, or €15 per animal sold, because of the increase in grain prices.

“Some producers have already decided, or have been forced, to cease production due to rising costs and rising debts. The loss of this production could potentially put some of our factories in jeopardy and ultimately the livelihoods of the people employed in the industry upstream and downstream of the farm,“ he said.

Mr Cullinan said the IFA, the processors and Bord Bia had met retailers to highlight the crisis and were now asking them, food service outlets, restaurants and butchers to increase the volume of pigmeat they purchase.

Irish Association of Pigmeat Processors director Cormac Healy said the contribution of the home market was far more important in the pigmeat sector than in any other meat sector as 50 per cent of Irish output is consumed here.

He said it is crucial for the industry that Irish consumers support producers by choosing quality-assured Irish products. He agreed with Mr Cullinan that jobs would be lost in the sector if this did not happen.

The Food Harvest 2020 report published last July by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said pork consumption worldwide was expected to grow steadily over the period to 2020 and the challenge for the Irish industry was to share in that growth. It said the main barrier to growth was low profitability at producer and processor levels, along with environmental constraints and high feed, energy and compliance costs. “While there is likely to be a reduction in the number of farmers producing pigs, it is envisaged that unit size, already large by European standards, is likely to increase,“ it added.

The Irish pigmeat industry employs more than 8,000 people across farming, processing, haulage, feed mills and ancillary services. Irish farmers produce about three million pigs each year. Last year exports rose by 10 per cent and were worth €317 million.