Calls for a pork pledge

A leading sausage brand is pledging its support for struggling pig farmers with a guarantee to pay 15% more than the industry average for pork.

Debbie & Andrew's will launch its Fair Trade for Pig Farmers scheme this weekend to support both farmer and processor.

However, it estimates that if the total UK sausage industry applied the same principle, it would inject an estimated £20m into the British meat industry.

The company claimed to be the first regional producer in the UK to guarantee a fair price for everyone in its pork supply chain.

Andrew and Debbie Keeble, the husband and wife farmers behind the range, are also calling on the industry and retailers to create a steering group to agree a more cohesive approach to promoting British meat and providing public information about why it is best to buy British over imports. They also want to see a higher industry average price for pork introduced.

Andrew said: "The British Pig Executive (BPEX) does a fantastic job but the whole industry should be pulling together to keep the public informed about buying British meat and extolling the benefits of the product.

"It's not just about farmers asking for more money, or companies launching individual pledges to help, there should be one industry standard. Customers are more discerning these days but we need to keep them informed about why our meat is better than imports.

"So far the focus has been on freshness and regionality, but Britain leads the world in animal welfare and traceability which is becoming more important in terms of food safety and hygiene."

He added: "Britain hasn't been beating its own drum enough, plus there is an insatiable appetite for cheap food in this country which has made the job a lot more difficult. The UK pig industry is in real crisis and will be unviable if it gets any smaller, but we think we've got an industry worth saving and that everything possible should be done to preserve it."

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