Boost for pig industry

The much-maligned British pig industry has received independent recognition that its welfare standards are amongst the highest in the world.

In a letter to Richard Lochhead MSP, cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment in Scotland, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) agreed that, "The majority of pigs in the UK, including those in Scotland, are kept to a higher welfare standard than elsewhere in the EU and other countries."

The letter, which was written in response to questions asked of the FAWC during a meeting with Lochhead about the welfare of Scottish pigs, stated that the higher standard arises from both legislation and voluntary practices. It recognised that, in both cases, these measures have increased the costs of pig production in the UK relative to those in other exporting countries.

The letter concluded that retailers will play a major role in recognising the high welfare standards of British pig meat and labelling accordingly.

"Other members of the food chain, particularly retailers, can play a major role by offering products of different welfare standards and origin, thereby catering for consumer choice," it said.

"However, if pig meat is not labelled according to its welfare provenance, then concerned consumers will not be able to exercise their choice and may, unwittingly, purchase products that do not meet their requirements."

BPEX chairman Stewart Houston welcomed the recognition that superior standards result in higher costs of production. He said: "It is very encouraging that FAWC is acknowledging not only the high welfare standards that apply in the UK but also the extra cost borne by the industry to implement those standards. I am sure customers and retailers will also welcome this independent reassurance that British pork not only represents exceptional value, but also superior welfare."

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