Cranswick cuts anger farmers

Pig industry leaders are reacting with anger after UK processor Cranswick reportedly announced plans to cut its prices paid to farmers by 2p.

The move follows the news, announced in MTJ today, that pig producers had lost £27m in the last quarter. A statement from organisers behind the Pigs Are Still Worth It Campaign, said: “The campaign is disturbed by the reported decision of Cranswick Country Foods to drop its shout price by tuppence today.

“Cranswick is the highly profitable main supplier of British pigmeat for Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range.

“The Pigs Are Still Worth It campaign fears Cranswick’s actions could provoke others into dropping their price, at a time when retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco say they are looking for ways to support the industry.

“Cranswick is sending a worrying signal to its suppliers. Pig farmers lost around £27m in the run-up to Christmas. Pig producers are already subsidising processors and retailers and their balance sheets cannot stand it — not even for weeks, never mind months. Cranswick’s action sends the wrong signals, not only to its suppliers but to the industry as a whole.”

A spokesman for British Pig Industry Support Group told Pig World: “Last week Cranswick officially opened its new £12.5m abattoir in East Yorkshire, promising its Sainsbury’s guests that it planned to increase its kill from 20,000 to 30,000 pigs a week.

“If it drops its price the instant the going gets sticky, it will see a shrinking British supply base, with no prospect of attracting a further 10,000 pigs a week.”

Adam Crouch, Cranswick's md of fresh pork operations, defended the decision: "As one of the largest processors in the UK it is vital that we support the UK pig industry, but are also mindful of the wider economic situation that the consumer is facing. We do not operate in isolation and must remain competitive within the industry."

However one industry insider pointed to the situation on the continent following the German dioxin scare. "The German price fell 23 cents this week. We might live on an island, but the market is not an island."

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