No answer to phantom payments riddle

Retailers are shielding consumers from the worst effects of food inflation by absorbing much of the increased cost, rather than passing this on to consumers, according to the British Retail Consortium.

But if retailers are footing the bill, why is it that, when retail pork prices have risen on average by £1.46/kg in the last 12 months, pig farmers are only receiving an average of 26p/kg more? Pig producers identified very early in the commodity price hike crisis that they would be badly affected: 50% of production costs are feed costs and these were doubling.

Just over a year ago, producers went to the supermarkets to request they pay a price that reflected production costs. In support of this, producers asked consumers whether they would be prepared to pay more for Quality Standard pork and they said yes. They also agreed that imported product should meet the same welfare standards as British pork.

So the 'Pigs Are Worth It' campaign, calling for a fairer price was launched. But in the space of the past year, since its launch, pig farmers have lost on average £120,000 and the industry has lost £180m, leaving farmers asking the question, "Where has all the money gone?"

Pig farmer Richard Longthorp said: "Pig farmers should be getting a reasonable return and consumers paying less for pork products, but both are getting a raw deal because of the increase in retail pork prices."

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