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.


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


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


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