Pig industry ups the pressure

Britain's pig farmers and processors today launched a major campaign to persuade supermarkets and foodservice outlets to pay them a higher price for pork, sausages, bacon and ham to cover growing losses.

The campaign, www.britishpigsareworthit.com, comes on the back of huge worldwide rises in feed prices, which have already pushed up production costs for pig farmers by over 30% in the past year.

A British Pig Executive (BPEX) report outlines the devastating impact of the cost of feed on the industry. Key findings include:

? Farmers are currently paid £1.10 per kilo for pigs that cost £1.44 per kilo to produce

? Without a price increase farmers stand to lose approximately £200m in the next year

? Feed costs have doubled in the past year and now account for 59% of pig production costs (up from 45% in 2006)

? Britain's high standards of animal welfare in pig production will remain under threat unless price increases are realised.

BPEX Chairman Stewart Houston said: "The price rises farmers need would mean only a modest increase of a few pence for consumers. Between 7p and 17p on a pack of pork or pork products would move the industry back from breaking-point, so we are calling today for urgent action from the supermarkets.

"Pig farmers receive no subsidies and their businesses are well run. We are sure consumers agree it's worth a few pence more to help secure the future of British pig farming and uphold British animal welfare standards, which are the highest in the world."

The campaign launches with an open letter from Britain's pig farmers in national newspapers today. The letter calls on supermarkets and the foodservice industry to pay a fair and sustainable price by increasing the amount they pay farmers by 34p per kilo.

The adverts have been paid for by pig farmers via the National Pig Association (NPA).

A website and online petition www.britishpigsareworthit.com were also launched today by the NPA to encourage consumers to register their support.

Houston said: "While feed costs have risen and look set to rise further, there has actually been a downward pressure on the price that farmers receive. This squeeze clearly can't go on. Something has to be done and that is why we are calling on supermarkets and the foodservice industry to pay us a reasonable price.

"The British Pig industry operates to world class standards of animal welfare. This investment in high welfare will remain under threat unless farmers receive a higher price for the pigs they produce."