Scottish pig sector 'at risk' due to unfair supply chain practice

NFU Scotland has called for urgent action to be taken to protect the future of Scottish pig producers
NFU Scotland has called for urgent action to be taken to protect the future of Scottish pig producers

The future of the Scottish pig industry is at risk due to continued unfair supply chain practices, NFU Scotland has warned.

It has written to Pilgrim’s, the processing partner of Scotland’s largest abattoir in Brechin, to urge them to stop operating pricing practices that 'threaten' the sector.

Farmers had 'serious concerns' resulting from the 'uncompetitive price' paid by Pilgrim’s for pigs going to the Brechin abattoir.

"The price is uncompetitive compared to alternative market routes," NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said.

"This has resulted in the volume of pigs going to Brechin falling dramatically and operations at the plant being reduced to three days a week."

While there was strong market demand for pig meat, the pricing structure being operated by Pilgrim’s at Brechin was making it 'impossible' for farmers to 'financially survive'.

"We are currently losing around one farmer from the sector each week," NFU Scotland's president explained.

"To stop the trickle becoming a flood, we need Brechin to once again be operating at normal levels and paying the same price as other abattoirs."

Mr Kennedy added: "Should the current situation persist, we are concerned for the future of the abattoir itself as to operate effectively it needs a critical mass of pigs to process efficiently.

"We simply won’t have enough pigs left in Scotland to meet this critical mass if the current situation persists."

He said this could threaten both farm jobs as well as those working at the abattoir, and result in a shortage of ‘Specially Selected Pork’ on shelves.

"We are calling on Pilgrim’s to recognise their responsibility to the pig industry and cease penalising farmers through unfair pricing," Mr Kennedy said.

"If they are not willing to do review their current practices then we urge them to engage in meaningful dialogue that will open opportunities to develop a positive future.”