Top retailers look poised to increase the amount they pay for fresh pork.

Senior pig industry officials said that weeks of pressure from farmers in the form of direct action and hard-talking had begun to pay off.

They claimed that Tesco was in negotiations with one of its key suppliers, Tulip, to increase the amount it paid for pork by around 2p/kg - on the basis that this was given directly to struggling farmers.

Tulip, through its Dalehead operation, slaughters and processes 25%-30% of the pigs produced in the UK, which means any agreement would be highly significant. The details of the deal are set to be thrashed out between Tesco and Tulip bosses at a meeting next week.

Tulip spokeswoman Fiona Clayton said: "We are still in discussions with our customers, but the market is firm."

Meanwhile, Tesco said it was looking to develop long term contracts covering British pig supplies. A spokeswoman said: "We believe this will give producers confidence in their future partnerships with Tesco."

Pig bosses are also piling pressure on Asda, and met senior staff last week. A spokesman for Asda described the result of the meeting as "good" and added: "The market is moving up."

John Rowbottom, chairman of the British Pig Industry Support Group, which has been behind blockades of retailers' depots in recent weeks, said that increases would be welcome.

"With prices as they are - about £1/kg - we're not losing money but we're not able to invest. An extra 2p/kg works out at £1.60 a pig, and would help."

Grampian Country Food Group, another major supplier of pork to retailers, including Tesco and Asda, said it had been in ongoing discussions with customers "for some time" about price increases, but had nothing new to report.