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

Waitrose pledges renewed support for troubled pig sector

The move comes amid growing concerns over the pig sector, which is facing the biggest crisis it has seen in a generation.

The current estimate is that around 200,000 pigs are backed up on farms across the country due to a lack of labour in processing plants.

The sector is also facing falling prices impacting its financial sustainability, as well as global disruption to CO2 supplies.

In response, Waitrose said it would be extending its pledge to pay a “fair and sustainable, minimum price for pork to all of our dedicated farmers – even if prices continue to fall.”

Jake Pickering, senior agriculture manager for the supermarket said: “We need to support our farmers before it’s too late to save their bacon.

“They kept food on our tables through the pandemic, and we need to help them through their tough times too.

“By guaranteeing a base price for pork, we’re protecting farmers for the months ahead and allowing them to plan for a long-term, sustainable future.”

 

 

by FarmingUK

 

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

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

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

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