In a letter to the major multiples, Stewart Houston, chairman of the National Pig Association, said the pressure was now being passed down to the producers, and processors “are preparing to renege on contracts”.
“After failing to get the profit they need out of the top end of the chain, processors are resorting to squeezing it, once again, out of the bottom,” he said in the letter.
He said processors were “rolling” pigs, effectively delaying the supply of pigs they are contracted to take, and the NPA’s Porkwatch was showing a move away from British pork to cheaper imported product on retail shelves.
The letter dismisses claims that lack of demand is causing problems at retail, and said the new blow comes at a time when the industry was just beginning to recover from a sustained period of depression.
He praised the retailers who had committed to 100% British meat, but challenged the rest of the sector to back UK production.
“Our profound thanks to those retailers who are maintaining their 100% British offer in the face of provocation from retailers that are increasing the amount of cheaper, lower-welfare imported product on their shelves.
“To the latter, our challenge is: Are you going to support the British producers’ drive for efficiency? Or are you going to drive us back to the bad old days of conflict and confrontation?”