Success for British Pig & Poultry Fair

The British Pig & Poultry Fair, which started on Tuesday (10 May 2016) has started well, with standing room only at the popular forum programmes. 

Commencing the outlook for the poultry and egg sector were Chris Hall of Cargill and Tom Willings, formerly of Noble Foods. This was followed by the pig outlook, which featured talks from Phil Woodhall from Thames Valley Cambac and Meryl Ward of AHDB Pork.

Despite facing different opportunities and challenges, the two sectors also face similarities. These come in the form of retail price pressure, potential oversupply, and a demand for innovation.

According to Hall, volume sales of poultry increased by 5.2% over the past year, although in price terms spend was only up by 1.5%. At a 45% increase in volume sales, and a 37% rise in value, duck has been out-performing chicken and turkey. “That is really being driven by a huge amount of innovation – duck is leading the way,” said Hall.

He mentioned that processors could learn from the duck sector in regards to making the best of the whole carcase as consumers were increasingly demanding convenient cuts, such as breast fillets.

Woodhall commented that this was reflected in the pig sector also, with shoppers looking for more ready meals and snacks, and taking less time to prepare a meal from scratch. With sales of fresh processed products like sausages declining, more needs to be done to drive innovation in the sector. “Savoury snacks are where the future is,” said Woodhall.

Slaughterings and carcase weights have both increased over the past couple of years, leading to a slump in pig prices. Despite this, EU and UK production is now likely to ease, according to Woodhall, while the UK’s premium over EU pork has narrowed and consumption was tracking back up.

AHDB Pork’s Ward said that exports of pig meat had also recovered to near the high levels of the late 1990s. “In 2016 exports will be worth £390 million and there is a lot of strategic work going on to open up new markets,” she said. She also commented on the importance of retaining disease-free status due to export opportunities that will help the market. To maintain this, in-place contingency plans are vital.

Afternoon sessions provided producers with the opportunity to hear about how to make marginal gains in productivity and profitability through small changes. Topics of discussion included how producers could benefit from innovation in nutrition, and how farmers could utilise technology.

“With more than 80 new products highlighted in the new Innovation Trail, visitors had plenty of bright ideas to take home to improve their businesses,” said fair organiser Alice Bell.

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