Ulster pig farmers protest at Asda pork prices cuts

Ulster pig farmers are today publicly protesting at an Asda store in Cookstown to highlight their anger at the supermarket's decision to cut retail pork sausage prices .

Ulster pig farmers are today publicly protesting at an Asda store in Cookstown to highlight their anger at the supermarket's decision to cut retail pork sausage prices at a time when local pig farms are in financial crisis because of rocketing feed costs.

The Ulster Farmers' Union has described Asda's pricing policy as short sighted and a blow to the morale of producers.

UFU deputy president John Thompson said local pig producers were angered to see Asda advertising significant cuts in pork sausage prices, at a time when producers were desperate to see their prices rise. "This is completely unsustainable and we are at a genuine risk of ending up with no local pork or bacon produced in Northern Ireland".

Thompson said; "The pig industry is in crisis and we gave Asda this stark message at a meeting on Wednesday. We asked them for urgent action to address the totally unsustainable position which their suppliers are struggling with. It is demoralising for pig farmers to see ASDA the very next day cutting prices for pork sausages even further, sending out completely the wrong message to the industry. Asda must stop indulging in short sighted price cutting decisions which only lead to price wars between retailers and more hardship for farmers".

He added; "We have been meeting all the major retailers, urging them to respond urgently to this issue. While Tesco have acknowledged the situation and taken on board our concerns, Asda's response has been very disappointing".

Thompson said; "We have a world class product and we are resilient, but we can not sustain these rising costs without significant farm gate price rises. To cut retail prices, when producers costs are soaring, makes absolutely no economic sense".

"If this relentless price cutting between retailers continues, then supermarket shelves will soon have no locally produced pork or bacon available. This will be a travesty for the local industry at a time when there has never been more interest among consumers about local produce".

The UFU has highlighted:

? Every pig on farms in Northern Ireland at this moment will make a financial loss to the farmer;

? Global stocks of grain are at a 25 year low, leading to huge increases in feed costs for producers;

? The increase in feed costs in 2007 will add an additional £100 million to this years farm feed costs in Northern Ireland;

? The increase in pig feed costs this year is currently predicted at £23 per pig

? Total additional costs for pig producers are estimated at over 30 pence per kg.

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