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Back British Pig And Poultry To Secure Future Supplies

by 5m Editor
4 September 2007, at 9:24am

FARMING UK - At a time when the world's food supplies are coming under unprecedented pressure because of a combination of climate change and soaring demand, the NFU and the National Pig Association are joining forces to campaign for sustainable prices for pig and poultry farmers.

The two organisations will use a press conference in London tomorrow to warn of the consequences for supplies of pork, bacon and poultry meat if farm-gate prices do not rise to match a steep increase in feed costs.

Crisis point has been reached with the pig sector losing £3.9m per week due to increased feed costs alone. But a rise of just 7-17p per retail pack for pork and 12-15p/kilo for poultry or per dozen eggs at the farm-gate in the prices paid by processors and retailers to farmers would be all it takes to secure the sectors' future – and more importantly safeguard UK production.

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"We have seen dramatic feed increases in recent weeks. Historically this has happened before and we had a price increase to producers from the supply chain.

NFU poultry board chairman Charles Bourns

In addition further leaps are expected in feed prices to the poultry sector, reaching at least 30-40 per cent in the autumn, which could see feed costs rise from £180 to £230/tonne. Pig production sees around half of the farmer's costs taken with feed and with a current price for pork at £1.09 per kilo, on average, they lose £26 per finished pig.

NFU President Peter Kendall said: "Last month, as part of the supermarket price war, Asda promoted and sold its £2 chicken. This is clearly unsustainable and sends completely the wrong message. However things are changing with Tesco this week announcing its plans to sell the same size bird for £3.39 – a rise of four per cent.

"While this increase is good news we need to see it reflected throughout the supply chain and passed back to the farm-gate. Soaring feed costs are a global phenomenon, as wheat is traded on the world market, so importing chicken and pork from abroad is not the answer. The era is cheap food is coming, and must come, to an end."

Both NFU poultry board chairman Charles Bourns and NPA chairman Stewart Houston echoed Mr Kendall's views and believe an increase in price paid to farmers is the only way of preventing meltdown in the sectors and stem the losses due to the feed price increase. Each will present their findings during Tuesday's launch.

"There is increased risk that public limited poultry companies may not be able to continue operating and the rise in feed costs will put significant pressure on short-term cash flows," said Mr Bourns.

"We have seen dramatic feed increases in recent weeks. Historically this has happened before and we had a price increase to producers from the supply chain. The problem this time round is with some supermarkets are engaged in a price war at the expense of farmers there are real concerns the natural market rise expected at the farm-gate is just not going to happen."

NPA chairman Stewart Houston added: "Wheat prices have rocketed world wide and as a result many pig farmers businesses - which are unsupported and are well run to high welfare standards - are under threat. A modest rise of 7p to 17p per pack of pork or pork products is all it would take to move the industry back from breaking-point, but we need action in days not weeks."

5m Editor