The National Pig Association has called on retailers and consumers to back British pig farmers following successive crises in the industry.
Newly appointed NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson warned that without support there could be shortages requiring an increase in more expensive EU imports over the Christmas period.
Recent figures from the AHDB showed pig producers lost on average £52 per pig in the second quarter of the year, following losses of £59 per pig in Q1.
The industry has therefore had seven successive quarters of negative margins, meaning producers had collectively lost £600m since the autumn of 2020, AHDB estimated. It follows an extended period of oversupply in the market, which along with a damaging shortage of butchers has led to a backlog of animals on farms over the past year.
“As pig farmers continue to lose money following a two-year struggle, sadly increasing numbers are having to make the very difficult decision to reduce their herd or close – as reflected in the nearly 20% reduction in the national breeding herd according to Defra’s June census,” said Wilson.
Pig prices have begun to rise but they are not keeping pace with soaring feed and energy costs meaning financial woes are continuing, the NPA has warned.
Without more support for the industry there may be shortages over Christmas, which would leave the supply chain more reliant on EU imports. These are currently increasing in price thanks to shortages across Europe.
Wilson has called on retailers and consumers to source and buy British pork wherever they can as this could give some producers the lift needed to stay in business.
“It is a challenging time for everyone, not just our pig farmers, but what will help is for retailers to continue to support our domestic supply by buying British Red Tractor pork wherever possible, and for shoppers to buy British too,” added Wilson.
“Pork is still very competitively priced and so provides excellent value for money when budgets are increasingly being squeezed.”