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

Summit held to address ‘desperate’ crisis facing pig industry

Pig farmers are in a “desperate” position – with culls of thousands of healthy animals and producers quitting the industry, they warned as a summit was held on the crisis.

Farmers demonstrated outside a meeting in York on Thursday as industry representatives met with the Environment Department (Defra) about the problems facing the pig production sector.

The National Pig Association (NPA) said the backlog of pigs ready for processing, which are having to be held on farms because of a shortage of butchers, is now estimated at more than 200,000 animals.

The industry body said it knew of 35,000 healthy pigs which have been culled on farms as a result of the backlog, although this is likely to be an underestimate, and 40 independent producers have recently left the sector.

Producers are being hit by shortages in EU workers, caused by Brexit and the pandemic, to process their pigs and by high costs of feed for animals that are having to be kept on farms for longer before being sent to abattoirs.

Healthy pigs are being culled by farmers who have run out of space, creating food waste, while producers are also being penalised for overweight animals processed late, the NPA said.

As the NPA and National Farmers’ Union (NFU) held an emergency summit with Defra, attended by representatives from major retailers and pork processors, farmers warned the meeting was vital to the industry.

 

 

 

By Emily Beament / Evening Standard

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

Karro owners announce acquisition of Irish cooked meats producer

The Eight Fifty Food Group, which owns pork processor Karro, has announced the acquisition of Irish food business Carroll’s Cuisine from Carlyle Cardinal Ireland (CCI) for an undisclosed fee.

Carroll’s is a leading producer of cooked meats and convenience food in the Republic of Ireland, employing approximately 300 people at its site in Tullamore, Offaly. It will be integrated into Eight Fifty’s pork division, further expanding its presence in the Republic of Ireland following the acquisition of M&M Walshe in June 2020.

Carroll’s sliced cooked meat offering will complement M&M Walshe’s gammon, bacon and sous-vide meat products.

Upon completion of the transaction, which is subject to standard closing conditions and approval from the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Eight Fifty will have sales of around £1.9 billion and employ around 8,300 people across 23 manufacturing sites in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Germany and France.

Di Walker, CEO of Eight Fifty Food Group,said: “Eight Fifty are guardians of strong brands across multiple proteins and so we are delighted to add the Carroll’s business to our growing group. Like our Young’s brand in seafood, the Carroll’s name is synonymous with quality, value-added protein products. Carroll’s will be a great addition to our business”.

 

 

BY ALISTAIR DRIVER

Soaring pork exports buck downward trend for UK food and drink

Pork has bucked an otherwise declining trend within the UK food and drink sector to significantly increase export volumes so far this year. 

In terms of export value, pork now lies fifth on the list of UK food and drink products, behind only whisky, chocolate salmon and cheese, according to fresh analysis from the Food and Drink Federation.

Overall, it is a gloomy picture, showing that in third quarter of 2020, UK food and drink exports fell by 11.6% to £5.5bn, compared with the same period in 2019, as both exports to EU and non-EU markets declined. This decrease was largely driven by the impacts of COVID-19, including the closure of hospitality and travel sectors, which has meant a loss of sales into restaurants, cafés, bars and the out-of-home sector across Europe.

In the first nine months to September 2020, food and drink exports fell to £15.2bn (-12.9%) year-on-year. Exports to the majority of the top 20 markets decreased, with sales to Spain falling significantly by -33.8%.

 

by Alistair Driver