Scots review pig sector

Work is underway to give Scottish pig farmers a clear picture of their industry and help enable them to build a more resilient sector.

The strategic review of the entire pig sector will report back in July, and the group has been tasked with giving the industry a range of options to take the sector forward.

This will also enable them to better target any help they receive and identify opportunities for improving on-farm income.

It will be reviewing issues such as the provision and location of Scotland's slaughter capacity, the sector's environmental footprint, comparing performance relative to competitors, and looking at confidence levels in the sector and the Scottish economy as a whole.

Pig industry representatives and the cabinet secretary for the environment and rural affairs, Richard Lochhead yesterday welcomed the launch of the review of the sector, which has been under sustained pressure from soaring input costs.

Industry development manager, Andy McGowan, the QMS representative at the meeting said: "The industry is working together to find a collective solution to the massive challenges it is facing. This review will enable them to identify priorities for targeted industry and government action and any new opportunities that may yet be untapped.

"While the headline challenges facing the industry are well known, this review will provide a clear indication of the details of what is going right and wrong in the sector, and give them a roadmap to creating a more resilient pig sector."

The £30,000 review is being undertaken by SAOS and will be led by leading experts in farming and economics, including; Dr Andrew Moxey, former head economist at SEERAD; Dr David Strachan, from animal health company Boehringer Ingelheim and Alan Stevenson, who has run meat plants throughout Scotland. It will feature input from farm and agri-food consultancy firm PROMAR.

Gordon McKen, QMS board member and chairman of the pig forum, said: "For this to be a success it's key that we get the right people and have the right focus, and I think that's what we've got.

"We already know and have addressed a lot of the on-farm efficiency issues, most of the people that haven't are no longer in business. What we need to discover are the issues in the wider supply chain, finding ways of creating a sustainable value-added product in Scotland from Scottish product, and promoting this sustainability to the Scottish public.

"Scottish farmers are keen to see a viable and sustainable local pig industry, and once we get the results of this review we can take the ideas coming from it to the Pig Forum and really drive them forward."

The strategic review is part of QMS work to help the pig sector. The organisation is also embarking on a £300,000 project to look at adding value to the fifth quarter, and is running a major consumer campaign, Get some Specially Selected Pork on that fork, which is featured on the main metropolitan radio stations throughout Scotland, and is being backed up by in-store events and a high profile taxi campaign in Edinburgh.