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The ongoing farm to fork challenge in the pig industry

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The ongoing farm to fork challenge in the pig industry

Figures recently published in Farmers Weekly, based on numbers produced by the National Pig Association, it is suggested that more than 31 million meals of pork could have been fed to the nation but have been wasted due to the pig crisis.

How on earth have they come up with that figure, I hear you say.

Well, the National Pig Association’s official estimates on rendered pigs now stands at 35,000 and counting. The tonnages are calculated on finished animals producing a 90kg carcass yielding 80.5kg of edible pork.

Under NHS guidelines, on meat consumption of no more than 90 grams of red meat per day equates to 31,274,250 meals!

Are you keeping up?

The true figures of this crisis are believed to be much higher. In recent meetings, the government conceded the unfairness of the crisis as supply chain issues, that are out of the farmers control, are driving the position.

Whilst certain measures as to storage and slaughtering capacity have been introduced, farmers have continued to leave the industry.

The industry suggests that the increased cost of living and in particular the increase in energy prices have led to an increase in cost per kilo to 175-180p per kilogram. The standard price per pig at present is around £135 per kilo.

The noises made within the industry deal with a very real problem. Whilst Scotland, Northern Ireland, France, and other EU countries have looked to compensate their farmers, our own masters have remained both tight lipped and tight fisted.

One of the singular biggest issues has been that of manpower required to process the stock. In this world of “farm to fork” advertising, processing is the bit in the middle that people do not wish to talk about!

Brexit has seen a reduction in foreign workers coming to the UK to work in agriculture across the board.  In the pig industry a shortage of foreign butchers is the problem along with a historic failure on the part of labourers in this country to show an interest in undertaking this type of work! Whilst Brexit may create opportunity, a wholesale lack of desire will not fill the void.

The perfect storm of feed prices rising in an uncertain Europe and retaining pigs longer on farm, has had very real and obvious consequences.

Our farmers deserve both our and Government's support!

Paul Burkinshaw is a member of our specialist Agricultural Team who advise farmers and those operating in sectors relating to agriculture on the legal aspects of business structures, trading contracts and the inter-relationship between business and family objectives.

Our articles are intended for general information purposes only and are not a substitute for professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. We are always very happy to discuss any plans, issues or concerns you may have and to clarify how we might be able to help. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.