Pig producers urged to respond to supply chain review as deadline looms

The government launched a review of the pig sector in July to increase fairness and transparency in the industry
The government launched a review of the pig sector in July to increase fairness and transparency in the industry

Pig producers are being reminded that there is now less than a month to respond to the government's pork supply chain review.

The consultation runs until 7 October and invites views from pig farmers, abattoirs, processors, retailers and all stakeholders involved in the UK pig supply chain.

Defra's review, launched in July, seeks views on issues such as transparency, price reporting, clarity of contractual terms and conditions, and market consolidation.

It is hoped the consultation could ultimately lead to new legislation governing relations, including contracts, between pork producers and processors.

The pig sector has seen significant challenges recently with farmers seeing increased feed costs and moving pigs off the farm for slaughter.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the continued lack of available skilled labour have had a disproportionate impact on the sector.

The situation has also been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leading to increased input costs, including feed, fuel, energy, and fertiliser.

The National Pig Association (NPA) said it was keen for as many producers as possible to respond individually to ensure the sector "builds a powerful case for change".

Writing in the September issue of Pig World, the body's chief executive, Lizzie Wilson said: "We need... as many voices falling in behind us to ram that collective message home, loud and clear; the supply chain as it stands, is broken.

"Risk and reward are not proportionately distributed and we cannot continue. This is an extraordinary opportunity for the pig sector, which we absolutely cannot waste.

"We have battled and battled for government to listen to us on this, so it’s now up to us to answer as otherwise there’ll be no change to the status quo and we’ll not be forgiven by those who gave us the chance."

She added: "The strength of the response will demonstrate the significance of the issue and perpetuate the necessary change."

Victoria Prentis, who was Defra's farming minister at the time of the review's launch, said she hoped the industry would engage with the consultation to help address the challenges.

“I am a firm believer in ‘Buy British’ and supporting our domestic pig producers, and a fair and transparent supply chain is paramount."

The purpose of the consultation is to gather evidence about how supply arrangements in the sector currently function and to explore the nature of the relationships between the various parties in the supply chain.

The online survey is also seeking views on whether the functioning of the supply chain can be improved.