The Farming Social Hub - a voice for the farming community

Retail support vital for pig sector survival

Securing the future of the UK pig and pork producers will take a lot more commitment and support from the UK’s retail sector than is currently being offered.

That was the warning from the National Pig Association (NPA) as they joined voices from other organisations urging the retail sector to back British producers.

The latest AHDB Porkwatch survey shows that five of the UK’s big retailers – Aldi, Co-op, M&S, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s – supported UK pig farmers by stocking 100 per cent British fresh pork in March.

From a further two of the UK’s biggest retailers – Tesco and Asda, however, there was little movement towards stocking more British pork. Tesco had increased its stocking from 57 per cent to 58 per cent, while Asda had reduced its amount slightly to 58 per cent. Frozen food giant Iceland had just 24 per cent British pork on display.

The best performers were M&S, which also recorded 100 per cent British on bacon and sausage and 98 per cent on ham, and Co-op, with 100 per cent on bacon, 99 per cent ham and 82 per cent on sausage.

After a difficult period that saw the pig sector lose 10 per cent of its production capacity due to severe labour shortages, problems have been exacerbated by soaring production costs as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

NPA Chief Executive Zoe Davies said: ‘We need to see a lot more commitment from some our biggest names in the retail sector to secure the future of British pig production.’

She added: ‘We understand why there is a focus on trying to keep prices down in stores – but that must not be at the cost of producers at the sharp end of the supply chain.

‘If retailers lose their supply of British pork, they won’t get it back and their consumers will be missing out – it is in everyone’s interest to back British pig producers at this time.’