Talk in the pig industry is of plans for renewed picketing of supermarkets by producers objecting to the multiples'pork and bacon imports. The recent downturn in the UK pig price, taking the average value here to below the EU average, is said to be due to a surge of supply from the continent, especially the Netherlands. In reality, however, the market has worked the other way round. Pork imports were boosted a few weeks ago in response to sharply rising pig prices in the UK, but have since subsided. These price movements, and the resentful responses of British producers, hint at the home industry's lack of competitiveness. Farmers here depend on prices being usually higher than in the Netherlands, Denmark and France, a vulnerability that is implicitly acknowledged by the British Pig Executive in its announcement of a new research programme. The BPE said on Wednesday it had "developed a strategy to reduce production costs by 15p per kg in four years". Part of the gain is expected from work already under way to reduce finishing costs, while a new project will focus on immediate post-weaning performance. {{M/E MEAT }}

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