Sustainable supply chains are the key to tackling the economic threats to the British pig industry says BPEX chairman Stewart Houston.
Houston's comments came during a meeting between himself, Food and Farming Minister Lord Rooker, Sainsbury's business unit director for dairy and convenience foods Simon Twigger and Sainsbury's agricultural manager Annie Graham at Sainsbury's store in Pimlico.
In the last two years the industry has made real competitive progress by improving productivity and there are tentative signs of a recovery but these are being threatened by economic factors such as rising feed costs.
Houston said: "BPEX has been in discussion with the major retailers, including Sainsbury's, over ways to strengthen and develop co-operation in the supply chain.
"Sainsbury's already has a well-developed group for beef suppliers and we are discussing the possibility of extending the concept to the pig industry.
"The economic sustainability of the industry is being seriously threatened in Britain and elsewhere by the rapid rise in feed costs.
"We urgently need to help suppliers address this issue or we will see many more pig producers leaving the industry."
Sainsbury's Twigger said: "Our customers tell us that buying British pork is very important to them, so we have significantly increased the amount of British pork on our counters. We are now 100% British on pork across all core lines.
"In addition, we've worked hard to maximise carcass utilisation for fresh pork and pork manufacturing, recently introducing two lines into our basics range to maximise returns to pig farmers."
Rooker said: "The visit this morning gave me a good view of the retail supply chain and I applaud the British pig industry and retailers working in partnership to promote British pig products."
During his discussions, Stewart Houston raised the issue of export recovery in the wake of FMD with Lord Rooker stressing the importance of targeting particular countries outside the EU, particularly in the Far East.