Sir, In his letter (The Grocer, 5 March), Andrew Opie, BRC director of food, implies that supermarkets have no influence over prices paid to pig farmers: a statement that's surely somewhere between disingenuous and rubbish.

The price supermarkets pay abattoirs/processors automatically "manages" the price paid to pig (and other) farmers. The BPEX report, Profitability in the Pig Supply Chain, published this month, clearly shows that retailers are currently making £16m a week profits from the sale of pork and pork products; profitable processors are making £8m a week; while pig farmers are racking up losses of £3m a week. Where in that is the "fair return" Mr Opie refers to?

When he refers to balance and an affordable shop price for consumers, Opie displays a breathtaking disregard for the lamentable double standards demonstrated by certain major retailers in their pursuit of profits at others' expense. A number of major supermarkets have recently been importing greatly increased volumes of cheaper pork produced to lower welfare standards than currently apply in Britain. This is hardly consistent with the vacuous CSR policies his members frequently hide behind, with their statements of support for British and Red Tractor.

If British supermarkets want to destroy any opportunity for improved sustainability in an important sector of food production, they are going the right way about it.

Stewart Houston, chairman, BPEX

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