A survey of Scottish consumers has revealed widespread concerns following reports that Scotland may soon be unable to meet demand for home produced pork as a result of the impact on the pig sector due to rising feed costs.
The independent study commissioned by red meat industry body Quality Meat Scotland revealed nearly 80% of Scots considered it was important that pork production continued in Scotland.
Only 18% felt confident that imported pork was produced to the same production and animal welfare standards as pork from Scotland and 74% believed Scottish pig farmers deserved fairer prices for their products.
According to a major processing company eight Scottish pig producers, supplying around 11% of the Scottish pig herd, have indicated their intention to pull out of pig farming.
QMS Chairman Donald Biggar said: "Feed costs have doubled in the last year and with pig producers facing the prospect of an annual feed bill of just short of £1000 a sow many are now seriously considering whether they have any future left in the industry.
"The economic situation was dire before the onset of foot and mouth disease but this latest outbreak and the reintroduction of movement restrictions means that pig producers have been left with even more expensive mouths to feed. We are now extremely concerned that for many this may be the final straw, they simply can't afford to keep losing money, and Scotland's rich heritage of producing excellent tasting pork may be in jeopardy.
"A recent summit meeting between industry figures and the multiple retailers at the Scottish Government gave some cause for hope that agreement could be reached enabling pig producers to take a fairer margin for their products. Given the gravity of the current situation, we hope this breakthrough happens sooner rather than later."
According to the QMS survey, for a pig producer rearing and fattening pigs feed is 50% of the total cost. A typical sow rearing piglets would consume five tonnes of feed per year which at current prices would cost in the region of £,1000. The current average producer price for pork is 108.9p/kg dwt or £85 a head. The average retail price per pig per head is 304 p kg or a total of £237 per animal.