Pig industry needs more support this year, NPA says

The sector is seeing a growing pig backlog on farms, along with record feed costs and plummeting pig prices
The sector is seeing a growing pig backlog on farms, along with record feed costs and plummeting pig prices

Pig producers need more government support this year as it seeks recovery from a 'perfect storm' of issues that have plagued the sector, the National Pig Association has said.

The on-farm pig backlog remains and, in some cases, with contingency plans exhausted weeks ago, the NPA said producers had 'run out of options'.

The sector's current crisis is a result of slaughterhouse and butchery worker shortages linked to Brexit and the impact of the pandemic.

Feed prices are also continuing to increase while pig prices plummet, adding to the already dire financial situation facing many farmers.

In his New Year message, NPA chairman Rob Mutimer set out his hopes for this year after the 'turmoil' of 2021.

"Covid-19 was initially quite friendly to the industry, but the bite in the tail of the loss of Chinese exports and illness and staff shortages reducing the throughput of the processing sector has really hurt us.

"With this being further compounded by Brexit, increased production costs and drop in the pig price, the industry has had a great deal to cope with over the past 12 months.

"A serious backlog of pigs remains on farms, which is still causing huge problems for some farmers who have run out of options, and the financial situation is dire."

Despite this, Mr Multimer said the pig industry was starting to see "the first chinks of light for recovery in 2022".

These include a renewed access to the Chinese pork market, which is seeing some strong growth in prices in the third quarter of 2021.

The sector has also seen strong sales of retail pig meat throughout the pandemic, something which Mr Multimer said farmers should be confident of.

But into 2022, he said the government needed to fix the broken supply chain, so that all parts of it were sharing the burden during these difficult times.

He added: "Producers want fairness in their dealings with processors and, while we appreciate the efforts of those retailers who have been backing British pork, we need to see all retailers prioritising our fantastic British product over cheap imports.

"As we seek recovery, we will also need the full backing of the government in ensuring any support it delivers achieves its aim of reducing the backlog, rather than simply benefiting processors.

"We welcome indications the government is planning to look further into the pork supply chain, which does need to be held to account."