Sausage scheme pays off

A Fair Trade scheme set up to support the pig industry crisis is encouraging consumers to back British farmers, it was claimed.

Sausage brand Debbie & Andrew's took on board the issues faced by the industry and, on the back of increased awareness for the crisis, developed its Fair Trade for British Pig Farmers scheme in January this year.

The initiative has proved a viable template for the rest of the industry and people are voting with their wallets, the company claimed. Its sausage sales have increased by 20% in just two months.

Part of the British pig industry problem is that shop prices for pork and pork products have largely stayed the same, but the price many farmers receive has gone down. Debbie & Andrew's Fair Trade move has paved the way by ensuring higher pork prices for farmers. The company pays 15% more for its pork and passes the difference directly to its farmers and processors. Debbie & Andrew's is the first UK producer to guarantee a fairer price for everyone in its supply chain.

The National Pig Association has calculated that between 7p and 17p on the price of packs of sausages, pork and bacon would guarantee the future of the British pig industry. Debbie & Andrew's has increased its retail price per pack by 30p from £1.89 to £2.19 to cover the cost of its Fair Trade scheme and this has not deterred customers either. The sales lift comes despite the price rise, which suggests that consumers are prepared to pay more to help British farmers and for quality British produce.

The Debbie & Andrew's scheme is also being backed by the bigger supermarkets. Since its launch, the company has been in discussions with its major customers to extend distribution for the first time beyond its regional Yorkshire heartland.

Andrew Keeble said: "Our Fair Trade scheme is helping farmers financially in the immediate term, but is also encouraging consumers to think longer term about the way they shop and to support the British farming community. We are a smaller producer, making inroads in a complex area but will need the continued backing of the wider industry and bigger supermarkets if we are to make significant change."

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