Sir, Your analysis on the plight of the dairy industry (14 July) has relevant parallels with the British pig industry, which has also long suffered from a dysfunctional supply chain.
However, in addition to poor retail prices, we are also dealing with a rise in feed prices to record levels which make pig production unprofitable and unsustainable.
With spot wheat now trading at £200/tonne, and soya at £400/tonne, cost of production is around £1.75/kg deadweight. Pig farmers currently get £1.50/kg deadweight, translating to a loss of £18 for every pig sold.
Producers simply cannot continue to stand such losses, while everyone else downstream in the chain continues to pay a less than realistic price.
The impact is already being felt: 7,000 sows’ worth of production have been lost in recent months in England, while in Scotland the closure of Vion’s Broxburn plant demonstrates the pressures being felt throughout the chain.
Neither is this just a UK issue: new EU welfare legislation due to take effect from 2013 could drive 5%-10% of supply out of the EU market. British retailers need to seriously consider the impact this will have on their supply of high-welfare British meat, invest in secure and fair contracts and pay a price that reflects the cost of production. Time is running out.
Richard Longthorp OBE, chairman, National Pig Association