Pig sector urges retailers to copy Waitrose’s price pledge

The pig sector has urged UK retailers to follow Waitrose after it made a fresh pledge to pay farmers a fair price during the backlog crisis.

Waitrose said it would be extending its commitment to pay a ‘fair and sustainable’ minimum price for pork to all of its pig producers.

The pledge has been made as prices continue to plummet, alongside record costs of production and an on-farm backlog of approximately 200,000 pigs.

The sector has faced a range of challenges, including the loss of exports to the Chinese market for certain pig processors, global disruption to CO2 supplies, and crippling labour shortages.

Waitrose’s move extends its previous commitment announced in November 2021, which it agreed to review on a regular basis.

Announcing the price pledge, the retailer warned the pig sector was facing ‘the biggest crisis in a generation’, with ‘falling prices impacting financial sustainability’.

 

 

by FarmingUK

China suspends Lithuanian beef as Taiwan row grows

BEIJING/VILNIUS (Reuters) -China suspended imports of beef, dairy and beer from Lithuania this week, Lithuania’s veterinary control agency said on Thursday, amid a growing trade dispute over the Baltic nation’s relations with Taiwan.

China’s General Administration of Customs had informed the country it was halting the exports due to “lack of documentation”, the agency said in a statement.

It added that “this is first such notification we ever received, because the importing countries usually start by asking for any missing information”.

The Chinese agency said earlier on Thursday it had stopped imports of Lithuanian beef but gave no specific reason.

Relations frayed after Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its capital Vilnius last year, angering Beijing which regards the democratically-ruled island as its own territory.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Wednesday during a visit to Australia that nations seeking to use trade as a retaliatory measure must be reminded that “like-minded countries have tools and regulations that help withstand the coercion”.

Britain said on Monday it will join the United States and Australia in backing an EU trade case against China at the World Trade Organization over Beijing’s alleged trade curbs on Lithuania.

 

 

By Dominique Patton, Andrius Sytas / Reuters

Brechin abattoir takeover boosts pig sector confidence.

The cloud of uncertainty hanging over the future of Scottish pig processing has been lifted following the purchase of Brechin abattoir by Browns Food Group.

The specialist pig slaughterhouse, which employs around 100 staff, has been owned by Quality Pork Ltd (QPL), in a close collaboration between the two farmer cooperatives, Scottish Pig Producers (SPP) and Scotlean, together with Pilgrim’s Pride UK.

However, Pilgrim’s, which has been the sole customer for the pigmeat processed at Brechin, gave notice last year that the arrangement was “unsustainable” following a downturn in the pig industry and the abattoir’s loss of a valuable Chinese export licence after an outbreak of Covid at the plant.

That licence has not been reinstated by China despite the plant getting the all-clear by public health authorities a few weeks after the outbreak, and it is generally believed this is related to ongoing political tensions between China and the UK.

In a statement Dumfriesshire-based Browns said: “This is an exciting new development for both companies which will ensure a promising future for Scottish pork while supporting the existing established markets.”

SPP chief executive Andy McGowan said the new arrangement would mean business as usual for Scottish pig farmers who are currently supplying the plant with around 4000 pigs per week.

“The announcement lifts the question marks surrounding the future of the site  and brings about simplicity,” he said.

 

 

 

Defra agrees to urgent summit with pig sector as crisis deepens

The government has agreed to convene an emergency summit of the entire pig supply chain as the sector’s crisis deepens.

Defra farming minister Victoria Prentis today agreed to the joint National Pig Association (NPA) and NFU request for a roundtable event amid a worsening crisis.

It comes as the pig backlog is now estimated to be well in excess of 170,000 due to a lack of butchers in pork processing plants, as a result of the pandemic and Brexit.

Tens of thousands of healthy pigs have been culled on farms across the country by increasingly desperate producers who have run out of space.

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer and NFU president Minette Batters wrote to Defra last week, calling for it to “arrange a summit of the entire pig supply chain so that we can agree a plan to get these pigs off farms and onto people’s plates”.

Responding, Mrs Prentis agreed that “convening a roundtable bringing together producers, processors, and retailers to discuss the ongoing challenges faced by the sector would be helpful”. The date will be arranged ‘shortly’.

She acknowledged that recruitment of butchers via the temporary visa route, which closed to applications on 31 December, had ‘taken longer than initially expected’.

But she said that processors could still recruit butchers via the UK’s new points-based immigration system, which was introduced last month.

The Defra minister also acknowledged that uptake of both the Private Storage Aid (PSA)and Slaughter Incentive Payment (SIP) schemes had been lower than anticipated.

 

 

 

by Farming UK

NZ Red Meat Sector Achieves Record Exports During 2021

New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $10 billion in 2021 despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The exports represented a nine per cent increase on 2020. The value of red meat and co-products exported in December 2021 was also up 22 per cent year on year, at just over $1 billion.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said the sector had worked tirelessly in the face of ongoing global logistical challenges to continue to achieve the best possible results for farmers, the 25,000 people working in the industry and for the New Zealand economy.

“Despite all the disruptions and labour shortages, we were able to make the most of the global demand for red meat and generate record export revenue.

“The sector is continuing to perform for New Zealand in the most difficult conditions. However, supply chain challenges will significantly disrupt exports for some time to come and we do not yet know what impact that will have on the Easter chilled trade.

“This illustrates very clearly how critical it is for the industry to have access to sufficient labour including overseas migrants to capture the greatest market value and support the jobs of thousands of hard-working Kiwis.”

 

Overall, both sheepmeat and beef exports increased by five per cent and nine per cent year-on-year respectively, with both worth more than $4 billion for the year. Co-products exports also increased by 19 per cent, to almost $2 billion.

Red meat exporters have responded swiftly to adapt to rapidly-changing logistics environments – for instance, by converting chilled product to frozen, when needed, to address risks in the disrupted supply chain, says Ms Karapeeva.

While chilled sheepmeat exports to the UK dropped by 42 per cent in December, to the lowest volume in 25 years, frozen sheepmeat exports to the UK increased by 95 per cent.

Ms Karapeeva said that while there has been some softening in Chinese demand for sheepmeat from the previous high levels, prices in China have remained strong.

Overall sheepmeat export volumes to China dropped by 15 per cent in the fourth quarter. However, the value of sheepmeat exports to China increased by three per cent in the same period.

China remained the largest overall importer for the quarter (41 per cent), followed by the US (20 per cent), the UK (4 per cent) and Japan (4 per cent).

 

 

scoop.co.nz

Eustice puts pig crisis onus on processors

Defra Secretary George Eustice has told a committee of MPs that the Government is ‘limited’ in what it can do to support pig producers during their time of crisis.

Instead, Mr Eustice put the onus very much on pork processors to do more to increase their throughput and reduce the backlog on farms, at one point appearing to suggest this should include paying farmers less to speed up the process of getting pigs through plants.

However, while he offered little prospect of any short-term Government help for the industry, Mr Eustice reiterated that Defra is looking to introduce new legislation in the future to ensure a more functional and fairer pig supply chain.

Mr Eustice was questioned on the pig crisis by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee chairman Neil Parish and other MPs at the end of a long and wide-ranging session on Tuesday covering his and Defra’s work.

‘Sheer waste of food’

Mr Parish quoted a Yorkshire pig farmer, who had told him pigs are being culled on her farm ‘as we speak’, as the impact of pigs being held on farm for longer due to processing delays takes its toll. “There are animal welfare issues of this and it’s a sheer waste of food,” Mr Parish said, before asking the Defra Secretary what more could be done to get pigs ‘properly processed and the animal welfare issues solved’.

Mr Eustice acknowledged that the situation was ‘quite difficult’, but went on to explain how the industry’s ‘asks’ that the Government had delivered in its October support package had not been utilised by processors.

The ‘bespoke’ temporary visa scheme for pigs that was delivered despite being a departure from Government policy ‘hasn’t been used as much as we’d hoped’, he said. “There was a provision for about 800, but I think it will be in the low hundreds for the numbers that they actually bring in under that scheme.

“Some of the processors have used the skilled route to bring some butchers in from some areas, but they’ve not they’ve not been recruiting in the way we thought they might, given the labour shortage was one of the key issues they kept highlighting.

 

Alistair Driver / Pig World

Butcher shortage leaves pigs stuck on farms

A shortage of butchers means thousands of pigs otherwise ready for slaughter are stuck on farms across Britain.

Meat specialist Cranswick is talking to the government about special waivers to get more butchers and slaughterhouse workers into Britain to deal with the problem.

CEO Adam Couch estimated that between 300 and 400 workers are needed to ease pressure in the industry. The “backlog” of pigs is put in the thousands, though Couch said it was tough to put precise numbers on it.

The meat industry has had a tough few years due to the loss of skilled labourers post-Brexit and the temporary shutdown of many processing plants due to Covid outbreaks.

Couch said: “It’s a perfect storm: you’ve got post-pandemic, you’ve got post-Brexit and then you’ve got a shortage of butchers.”

Cranswick is already working overtime to address the backlog of pigs, with its processing plants now running at weekends. A shortage of workers saw wage inflation hit 15% towards the end of 2021, Couch said, adding to costs.

The Cranswick boss is “pushing hard” for government support in bringing workers from the EU and further afield to address the problems. He is also asking for help on an issue with Chinese exports. The country has banned imports from Cranwick’s Norfolk facility after a Covid-19 outbreak there during the pandemic.

Asked if the government were receptive, Couch said: “We’re having to paddle our own canoe in some respects.”

 

 

Evening Standard

Lamb exports to the EU will return to pre-Brexit levels, says Eustice

Defra Secretary George Eustice has claimed lamb exports to the EU will return to pre-Brexit levels in future.

British sheepmeat exports to the bloc have fallen by 25 per cent since the UK left the EU, with industry leaders blaming the sharp drop on non-tariff barriers such as paperwork and checks.

Last year, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) warned UK meat exporters were having to spend an extra £1,000 to send a lorry through a port.

Smaller exporters, in particular, have struggled to handle the 29 different processes required to send meat to the continent.

Giving evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee this week (February 1), Mr Eustice said he expected the trade to bounce back over the coming years.

“Things like salmon have actually seen an increase in their exports since we have left the European Union, driven by high demand for premium product,” he told the MPs.

“I think we will see a similar situation on our other major agricultural exports like lamb. There will be some impact because of the additional export processes which are required and the costs associated with that, but the big exports we rely on will resume just as Scottish salmon already has.”

But National Sheep Association (NSA) chief executive Phil Stocker questioned whether this would be the case.

“[Trade] will never return to the way it used to be, and seeing the effect border control posts and export health certificate controls are having on exporters, I do not see our volumes to the EU returning to where they were,” he said.

 

 

 

By Abi Kay  / Farmers Guardian

 

Reduced abattoir throughputs may impact future trading patterns

Reduced throughputs at UK abattoirs will have a knock-on impact on future trading patterns, industry chiefs have warned. 

It comes as tight supplies of cattle and sheep have supported the continuing trend of above-average market prices into the first month of 2022.

But last year saw cattle throughputs reach their lowest level since 2015 at 2.7 million head, a 5.7 per cent drop on 2020 and 4.3 per cent below the five year average, according to Defra figures.

Glesni Phillips, data analyst at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), said the decrease in cattle throughput at UK abattoirs last year was not unexpected.

“Increased numbers were processed during 2020 and this led to fewer cattle on the ground,” she said.

“This was especially true for adult cattle which saw throughput fall by almost 6 per cent on the year.”

 

 

Hannah Binns / Farmers Guardian

Irish pork exports to China hit record high in 2021

Ireland exported a record high of 215 million euros (US$239 million) worth of pork to China in 2021, a year-on-year rise of 8 percent. That represented 40 percent of its pork exports.

Conor O’Sullivan, China manager of Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, said 2021 was of great significance to the Irish meat industry at a recent Irish meat seminar in Shanghai. He added that thanks to the positive bilateral trade relationship between China and Ireland, Irish meat is recognized by more Chinese consumers, and the demand for safe, high-quality food from the Chinese market is increasing every year.

A new trade deal between China and Ireland was struck last September, and Irish lamb is expected to enter the Chinese market this year.

According to O’Sullivan, the value of Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports increased by 4 percent to a record of 13.5 billion euros last year in spite of COVID-19 and Brexit’s effect on trading.

About 34 percent of Ireland’s food and drink exports went to international markets outside the EU and the UK, 33 percent went to the EU and 32 percent to the UK. Its exports to Asia exceeded 500 million euros for the first time.

With strong demand and higher prices in the UK and EU markets, Ireland’s beef exports increased by 9 percent in 2021, totaling 2.1 billion euros. Meanwhile, Ireland’s poultry exports decreased by 15 percent.

 

 

By Li Anlan / Shine.cn