Free-range pork demand

Demand for free-range pork has gone up but supply could be limited if action is not taken to support farmers, warns a leading producer.

Following Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's programmes on chicken welfare, demand for welfare friendly birds has gone up, and attention is now turning to other sectors of the meat industry.

The pig industry is expected to be the next target, and demand for free-range pork products has already increased.

Free-range pig farmer Jimmy Butler said: "Since the focus on free-range chicken we've had lots of people calling to find out where they can buy our pork."

In a recent edition, the popular TV programme Countryfile reported on intensive rearing methods versus free-range. Despite demand for higher welfare pork, however, lack of action from government and difficulties in production could limit supplies.

"Where DEFRA - Dept of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs - minister Hilary Benn promises to ban battery eggs within four years, no such action is likely in the pig industry," said Butler.

"The light sandy soil where we run our pig herd at Blythburgh is a vital component for a truly free-range pig system and this type of soil is not a readily available commodity in the UK."

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