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Threat to national pig herd

PUBLISHED: 11:05 18 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:24 28 March 2014

APRIL 18, 2008: The pig herd in Britain is declining at an alarming
rate because of the crisis in the feed price, according to the National Pig Association.

About 37,000 sows were slaughtered out in the


first three months of the year, 40 per cent up on 2007, and there has


also been a significant reduction in the purchase of gilt replacements


by farmers.




NPA general manager Barney Kay said the UK breeding


herd had contracted by a worrying 8 per cent in the first three months


of this year alone.

The breeding herd had already halved in


size since the mid-1990s before the latest crisis to hit the industry.


Last year it stood of 455,000 sows but now threatens to dip below the


400,000 mark. The impact of the current contraction will start feeding


through to the supply of pigmeat in the second half of 2008, with the


full effect felt next year, Mr Kay said.

Producer prices have been rising gradually, reaching around 116p/kg last week from 110p/kg at the start of the year.

Yet


this is still way below the average cost of production, which now


stands 145p/kg due to soaring feed costs, which have risen from about


50p/kg in 2006 to 88p/kg now.

“This means that on average pig


producers are now losing about £26 on every pig they produce, which


equates to an industry loss of £200m. That is not sustainable,” Mr Kay


said.

Other major pig producing members states, including


Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, are also struggling and


seeing their herds contract, too, Mr Kay said.

He highlighted the


lack of availability of GM feed ingredients as a major factor but said


the problem was being compounded as retail prices increases being


achieved on the back of NPA/BPEX ‘Pigs are Worth It’ campaign. While


retailers had increased their prices by 30p/kg across the British pork


range since August last year, producer prices have only gone up a few


pence, he said.

“Our key focus at he moment is ensuring that


retail price increases that have already happened are passed back


through the supply chain. The next stage is to challenge the retailers


to state what exactly their purchasing policy is with regard to pigmeat


because it is abundantly clear they don’t have one at the moment”, he


said.































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