Asda move on pork welcomed

A pledge by Asda to pay an extra 8p/kg for pork has been welcomed as "just a start", as the campaign to boost prices steps up a gear.

The supermarket's move to pay a feed supplement for all pigs sourced via its PorkLink scheme comes just as plans are being drawn up for a protest march on Downing Street on 3 March as part of the 'Pigs Are Still Worth It' campaign. Farmers were left reeling last month by a double whammy of the German dioxin scare and a move by some processors to cut the price for pigs by around 2p/kg. That, coupled with soaring feed costs, has created a 'perfect storm' scenario for pig production and led the EU to release a payment to help with extra storage.

Announcing this support, Andy Clarke, chief executive and president of Asda Stores, said: "We understand it's a difficult time for pig farmers and we hope the feed price supplement being offered to our PorkLink customers will help ease some of the pressure."

A spokesman for Asda later told Meat Trades Journal that the company had released the extra funds, with the caveat that it was passed on down the chain.

Barney Kay, from the National Pig Association, said the extra from Asda was a welcome move, but warned that other retailers would have to follow suit. He said: "This is a profitable supply chain where two of the parties are benefiting and one suffers. It's about getting a fair return. This is an opportunity for retailers to make a difference, follow up on their promises and back British produce. We need to learn from the lessons of 2007."

He also warned that volatility in the pig markets was here to stay because of soaring feed costs and speculation on commodities. Kay added: "We are going to have a tightening of supply in April and May, due to the bad weather, and then it's going to be even harder for the retailers to keep a lid on price. At the moment, a game of brinkmanship is being played out. So we are very pleased that Asda has made this move but it is just a start."

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that plans are afoot for a rally near Downing Street in March and for 250 15x4ft banners to be erected at sites across the UK. This campaign follows a decision by some processors to cut prices in January. Adam Crouch, managing director of Cranswick's fresh pork operations, defended the decision to cut its pork price by 2p: "As one of the largest processors in the UK it is vital we support the UK pig industry, but are also mindful of the wider economic situation that the consumer is facing. We do not operate in isolation and must remain competitive within the industry."

Cranswick's decision was quickly followed by Vion, which also cut by 2p, and Woodheads which lowered prices by 1p.

>>EU to help with pig storage payments

>>Pig producers in price plea

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