Pig campaigners stage Tesco AGM protest

Pig campaigners have staged a protest at Tesco’s AGM to complain about the price they are paid for British pork.

Around 70 pig farmers and supporters of the industry gathered on a picket line outside Nottingham’s East Midlands Conference Centre last Friday in a battle to win “a fair price” for their products.

The British Pig Industry Support Group, which organised the protest, said farmers are losing around £10 on every pig sold, due to the high costs of feed and are calling for an immediate 10p a kilo price rise to try to help them break even.

The group said Tesco recently put up the price of a number of pork lines such as loin steaks from £8.36 per kilo to £8.99 and a Finest leg joint from £6.98 a kilo to £7.99 – profits which were not filtering down the chain to the farmers.

Richard Longthorp and his daughter Anna, who run Kilpin Hall Farm in Howden, East Yorkshire, said a recent survey revealed a vast difference in earnings between the supermarket and farmers.

Longthorp said:  “They will say they pay a fair price. Now, the word ‘fair’ is open to interpretation. The industry commissioned some research earlier this year and that research showed that the supermarkets, Tesco being the biggest, were making on average £16m a week profit from the pork they sell.

“Pig farmers, on the other hand, were losing on average £3m a week. To me that is simply a case of the pig farmers subsidising the profits of Tesco – that cannot be right.”

Miss Longthorp said she set up her business, Anna’s Happy Trotters, selling free-range pork from the family farm, in a bid to avoid large supermarkets dictating what they would pay and she now sells direct to many customers.

Tesco spokesman Tom Hoskin said he understood why farmers were protesting at the AGM, but said the company was working with processors to ensure a fair price not only for farmers but also for customers.

He said: “We deal with the pork processors so we buy from them. We have recently increased the price that we pay for pork products to those processors, so this is a discussion that the pig farmers need to have with the processors.

“We’re British agriculture, British farming’s biggest customers, 70% of our fresh pork and 100% of our Finest sausages and bacon come from UK farmers.

“We buy as much British pork as we can and the welfare standards across the board are as high as Red Tractor, if not in excess of Red Tractor standards.”

The spokesman claimed Tesco was doing all it could to support British pig farmers and added: “We are in constant contact with the National Pig Association and Bpex. These are the representative bodies across the entire industry in the UK – we work very constructively with them. We are having this dialogue the entire time, we are always trying to work out a solution to problems as they emerge.”