Consumers ready to pay more

Three-quarters of consumers are willing to pay a few pence more for a pack of pork, bacon, sausages or ham if it comes from pigs produced to higher welfare standards, according to new research.

Pig producers have been pleading with supermarkets to pay a fair price for their pigs for over six months now. Soaring wheat prices mean the cost of production is at 164p/kg. Meanwhile the DAPP — the price paid to pig farmers for their produce — stands at 146p/kg.

The research, carried out recently by the National Pig Association (NPA), showed that public opinion is even more solidly behind farmers than it was in 2007 — the last time the industry was in crisis — with more consumers saying they are prepared to pay more for higher-welfare products.

The consumer research also showed that the high standards of animal welfare in British pig farming, when compared to other countries across Europe, is something to be proud of as a nation. Eighty-one per cent of consumers said they were proud of British pig farming and its high welfare standards.

The research findings coincide with the latest Bpex report, which states that British consumers
are buying more pork and pork products. Volume sales of pork have increased over the past few years. Consumers have recognised pork’s value-for-money and appreciated its taste and versatility.

The report states that some of this growth, however, has come at the expense of high-welfare, quality-assured pork, such as that produced to Red Tractor standards, as some retailers have sucked in cheaper imports produced to lower welfare standards, much of which would be illegal to produce in the UK.

NPA chairman Stewart Houston said: “Volume sales of pork have increased over the past few years. Consumers are buying more pork, bacon, ham and sausages. Now, consumers are telling us that they support British pig farming and they are prepared to pay a bit more for their pork. It is time for retailers to address the issue before it is too late: increase the DAPP and put more money in the supply chain.

“If this doesn’t happen soon, the industry will be plunged into deeper crisis and there will be no high-welfare, quality-assured pork available.”