Houston urges retailers to back pig market

National Pig Association (NPA) chairman Stewart Houston has written to UK supermarkets to remind them of the importance of British pigmeat production, and to demonstrate that the lessons of the 2007-08 crisis have been learned.

Pig margins fell by 6% on 2009 levels for the past two months, leading to fears of a difficult winter and start to 2011, according to the latest Bpex figures, taken from its September Market Update. The NPA has also written an open letter to the trade, published as an advertisement in the trade press this week.

The margin fall comes at the same time as a 6% rise in UK production levels for the first eight months of the year. Feed grain prices are also 80% higher than last year, raising the cost of pork production by around 20p/kg, with producers now losing in excess of £5 per pig. These factors are likely to exaggerate future margin falls.

Bpex head of communications and supply chain development Andrew Knowles said: "Producers have swung from making £6 a pig to losing £5 a pig a month. It's cheap to borrow money, but if inflation kicks in, we'll be in a horrible hole."

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