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Home > News > Pig industry crisis - NPA blog, January 14 2022: Big change at Pilgrim's; Media interest in pig industry plight growing again; Defra extends support package
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Pig industry crisis - NPA blog, January 14 2022: Big change at Pilgrim's; Media interest in pig industry plight growing again; Defra extends support package

14th Jan 2022 / By Alistair Driver

Updates on the latest developments as NPA seeks solutions to crisis hitting pig sector. 


January 14, 2021

Big change at Pilgrim's UK

Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has announced the appointment of Ivan Siqueira as president of Pilgrim’s UK, succeeding Andrew Cracknell, who has left the business.

Mr Cracknell was appointed as CEO of Tulip in October 2018, after a long career in the meat industry with ABP and Noble foods, to manage the 'on-going transformation' of the struggling company.

Mr Siqueira brings more than 29 years of experience in the pork and poultry industries, most recently as executive director at Seara Foods, a leading Brazilian food company with an integrated pork and poultry business.

You can read more HERE


Media interest in industry plight growing again

Lister BBC LN JanMedia coverage of the industry's dire plight is growing again, as the situation shows no sign of improving. 

BBC Look North ran an excellent feature, interviewing Yorkshire farmer and former NPA chairman Richard Lister, who explained that things are no better on farm. 

"It's a lot of extra pigs to feed. Feed is at an all-time high in terms of price, so that is having a huge impact on our cash flow. All pig farmers are requiring a friendly bank manager at the moment," he said, adding that producers are being paid less for heavier pigs. 

Highlighting how the Government suppport package had made little difference so far, he added: "For pig farmers like myself, things are getting pretty desperate." 

The feature also showed footage from the #biteintobritish promotional event at a Leeds Tesco store last Friday, featuring comment from vet Duncan Berkshire and pig producers Vicky Morgan and Mike Raper, who both highlighted the massive pressures producers are under. 

You can view the feature HERE  

NPA senior policy adviser Charlie Dewhirst, who is also an East Riding councillor, was interviewed on BBC Radio Humberside about a motion put forward by Councillor Phil Davison intended to address the 'severe shortage' of processing plant workers and the pig backlog in one of the UK's biggest pig farming areas. 

The motion calls for the council to: 

  • Support pig farmers in the East Riding by urgently writing to the Defra A Minister and Prime Minister expressing our serious concerns about the future of this industry and demanding urgent action to prevent the destruction of this industry which is so important to our rural community, and
  • Instructs the Cabinet to see what actions it can take to support our farmers, for example, by using leaflets and social media to encourage processing workers to apply to work here.

Charlie explained that the supply chain 'isn't working', as it is the processors that have the labour shortages and are causing the backlog, but the farmers that are bearing the brunt of the problem. 

He said the balance of power lies with the processor, which needs to be addressed, but said some farmers have 'already reached the end of the line and gone out of business'. 

You can listen HERE (from 2 hours, 46 mins). 


Defra extends support package - but more action needed to save pig sector

Defra has extended two elements of its pig sector support package - the private storage aid (PSA) and slaughter incentive payment schemes. 

However, the NPA has stressed that the pig sector support package, announced in October, has so far made little, if any, inroads into the pig backlog has not delivered at all on its primary aim of reducing the pig backlog.

“In fact, the problem is getting worse, the backlog is growing, and contingency plans on farm are being exhausted, NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said. 

The NPA however is not convinced that this extension will help in any meaningful way and is continuing to call on Defra Secretary George Eustice to convene a roundtable event bringing together all interested parties in the supply chain to discuss constructive and effective ways to get more pigs through the system.

“We need to see more urgency and greater commitment across the supply chain in addressing this industry-wide crisis, and we need to see more support from Defra in ensuring these measures deliver on what they are actually intended to do," Zoe said.

“If we don’t see an improvement, we will lose more and more of our production and there will not be enough British pork to satisfy what remains very healthy domestic demand.”

Full story HERE


January 13, 2021

Carcase weights hit 95kg as backlog grows

Average carcase weight continue to reach new heights, as the backlog of pigs on farms gets worse. 

The latest SPP report from AHDB for the week ended January 8 showed carcase weights were up 1kg on the week to 95.10kg, another new record.

Weights are about 4.7kg above year earlier levels, when there was also a backlog, and nearly 9kg above 2020 levels for the week. The record weights reinforce anecdotal reports of some incredibly heavy pigs going into the system, with cull sow lines having to be used in some cases.

Probe measurements remained at 11.8mm, which is still the highest recorded measurement for the SPP sample.

"Slaughter delays, now including the Christmas holidays, will be driving this increase," AHDB said.

At 143,000 head, estimated slaughter remained low, partly because this was another week affected by a bank holiday, AHDB said. However, it was 5% higher than the week before, which was between Christmas and New Year.

While the true scale of the backlog is difficult to gauge, Yorkshire vet Duncan Berkshire estimated it has increased by '50 to 100%' over the festive period and now stands at 150,000 pigs. 

With Covid-related absences causing issues in some plants and no sign of butchers arriving in any numbers under the visa scheme, there appears to be no immediate prospect of the backlog easing. 

Pig prices Jan 8

The EU-spec SPP dropped by 0.45p on the week to 140.10p/kg, leaving it 4.6p down on a year ago and more than 9p below the 5-year average for the time of year.

AHDB published a 7kg weaner price wfor the first time in four weeks. At £32.86/head,it was similar to the last published figure but nearly £6 below the five-year average for the week.

In another interesting development, the gap between the SPP and APP, which includes all pigs, including those earning a premium based on production system, was the highest ever recorded in the week ended January 1.

The EU-spec APP at 148.04p/kg was 7.49p above the SPP for the week.


January 11, 2022

'A relatively small number' - Eustice comments on pig cull 

Defra Secretary George Eustice has played down the ongoing cull of pigs on farms caused by insufficient processing capacity in pork plants.

The NPA is aware of 30,000 pigs that have been culled due to overcrowding on farms – although this is likely to be a significant under-estimate as these are just the reported cases. 

In an in-depth interview with the Politics Home website, Mr Eustice said he expected to have ‘got the situation back into balance’ by early spring and insisted ministers ‘were always clear’ there was never going to be a quick fix.

He added: “In the context of the total number of pigs that are being slaughtered, which is in the millions, it’s a relatively small number [being culled],” Mr Eustice said.

The article cites NPA warnings about how the financial hit to pig farmers has forced some to walk away from the industry and refers to ‘harrowing reports from affected farms have revealed the stress and misery of their plight’.

Mr Eustice expressed sympathy for farmers who have had to cull pigs on farm. “Culling on farm is never ideal, and obviously it’s distressing. Farmers raise their pigs to go into food production, so to have that waste is something nobody wants to see,” he said.

Mr Eustice also revealed that one of the reasons it has taken several months to get butchers is that officials have had to prioritise the visa applications of overseas poultry workers, to ensure there were enough turkeys on supermarket shelves for Christmas.

You can read the full article HERE

The NPA continues to push Mr Eustice to ensure the package of support measures announced, which have had little impact so far, help the industry as intended, and to hold a full roundtable of all interested to discuss solutions to the ongoing crisis.


January 10, 2021

Scottish pig compensation scheme extended

A scheme set up to support to pig producers affected by the temporary closure of the Brechin abattoir last year, and the subsequent suspension of its China export licence, is to be extended.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon has announced further of more than £680,000 in extending the scheme.

The £715,000 Pig Producers Hardship Support Scheme was initially made available in August to deliver what the Scottish Government described as ‘essential funding’ to eligible pig producers who supplied the QPP between February 8 and March 31 last year.

You can read more HERE

The announcement highlights again the different approaches taken towards supporting pig producers through the crisis. 

Producers in Northern Ireland benefited from two tranches of funding provided as a result of Covid-related export problems last year.

However, Defra has rejected calls by the NPA for compensation for English producers affected by the events of the past year or so. Defra Secretary George Eustice told MPs he believed the lack of staff in processing was a commercial risk for producers, and therefore not something that the Government should provide compensation for. 


Average weights hit new record high 

In a sure sign that the situation on farms is not remotely, AHDB's final SPP report of 2021, highlighted record average carcase weights - 9kg higher than just two years ago. 

After a welcome increase in the week before Christmas, the SPP was down 2.31 to 140.55p/kg in the final week of 2021. As AHDB pointed out, even in ‘normal’ times, a slowdown in the pig market is typical in the post-Christmas period.

The estimated weekly clean pig throughput totalled 136,000 head,7,400 lower than the equivalent week a year ago.

pig price Jan 1 22

But carcase weights reached an average of 94.12kg - up almost 2kg on the week, 4kg up on a year ago, when there was also a backlog, and, more relevantly, nearly 9kg up on two years ago when there wasn't.

This increase in average weight is backed up by plenty of anectdotal evidence from farms and the trade of huge pigs, moving through the system that in some cases are having to go on cull sow lines in plants.

The Probe measurements are reflecting these higher weights - increasing again to an average of 11.8mm in the week ended January 1 - along with a similar measurement a few weeks ago, this remains the highest probe measurement for the SPP sample since the series began.

"We clearly continue to see heavier, fatter pigs coming forward as a result of slaughter delays, now also compounded by the Christmas holidays," AHDB said. 

As predicted, the backlog has got worse over the festive period. Speaking at the Bite Into British promotion at a Tesco store in Leeds on Friday, Yorkshire vet Duncan Berkshire estimated it has grown by 50% to 100%, with at least 150,000 pigs now likely to be backed up on farm. 

AHDB has highlighted how the price drop is being drivem partly by these higher weight pigs. The average price for just those pigs weighing 70-104.9kg, was 143.85p/kg - a drop of just 1.24p on the week.

But higher numbers of pigs outside normal contract specifications will have contributed to the drop in the SPP. Only 84% of the SPP sample fell within the 70-104.9kg bracket in the latest week, which compares to 87% the previous week and a longer-term average closer to 93%.


Tesco customers embrace #biteintobritish message 

Tesco customers in Leeds proved to be very receptive to the messages the #biteintobritish campaign, as pig industry campaigners made their voices heard on Friday.

Pig producers and supporters from the allied industries gathered at Tesco’s huge Seacroft store  just after 9am, armed with leaflets setting out the Bite Into British message and ample supplies of British bacon and sausage sandwiches prepared by Ladies in Pigs and some tasty British apples. 

They spent the rest of the day engaging with Tesco customers about the virtues of Red Tractor and RSPCA Assured British pork and wider British farm products in what NPA vice chairman Hugh Crabtree explained will be the first of events around the country. 

You can read more HERE


January 6, 2022

Tesco highlights 'pig harvest' problems

Tesco has revealed why we are not seeing as much British pork on its shelves as we should be doing at the moment. 

It is all down, according to a tweet by Tesco in response to a query from Vicky Morgan, to the poor weather affecting the UK pig harvest. A problem, I'm sure, many readers of this blog will be familiar with. 

Hmmm.

This actually happened, just one day ahead of the event to promote #biteintobritish outside a Tesco store in Leeds tomorrow. 

You can view the tweet (and farming Twitter's reaction) HERE


Industry to promote positive #biteintobritish message in Leeds tomorrow

A reminder - anyone with a connection to the pig industry and with an interest in fighting for its future is urged to turn out at an event organised by the #biteintobritish campaign on Friday. 

  • Those taking part will meet at 9.30am at Tesco’s Seacroft store in Leeds (LS14 6JD) on Friday, January 7.
  • If you are interested in taking part, email

More HERE


Eustice confirms Government looking into regulating pork supply chain

Defra Secretary George Eustice has confirmed that the Government is looking into introducing legislation to ensure fairness in the pork supply chain.

During a question and answer session at the virtual Oxford Farming Conference (OFC), he indicated the Government wanted to address the relationship between farmers and processors.

"With the Government now introducing regulation in the dairy sector, he added: “We are also looking at other sectors, including pigs and wider meat processing sectors as well, to ensure that we’ve got that transparency and that fairness," he said.

“A crucial thing if we’re going to move away from subsidy payments to farmers, is that we have got to make sure so they get a fair share of the value of the food that they are producing and that has not always been the case in the past.”

More HERE

Mr Eustice’s comments, which follow similar indications by Farming Minister Victoria Prentis, do not deflect from the reality that more urgent action is needed to address issues within the pork supply chain. 

The NPA has been asking Defra to carry out immediate oversight of the pig industry support package to help ensure the benefits reach producers and help ease the pig backlog, as intended, rather than just benefiting processors.

Neil Parish, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, has indicated that the committee will be examining fairness and contracts in the pig supply chain in the early part of this year.


Mixed news as SPP and weights rise before Christmas

Some encouraging news as the EU-Spec SPP increased by just over a penny to reach 142.86p/kg in the week before Christmas.

While reversing the generally downward trend of recent months, this puts the measure 4.5p down on a year ago and 7.5p down on the five-year average. 

SPP Dec 25

The EU-spec APP fell by 0.89p to 147.73p/kg in the week ending December 18. The gap between the APP and the SPP narrowed to 5.91p.

Significantly, EU prices appear to have bottomed out - the EU reference price recorded its third successive increase in the week ended December 19, reaching just short of 113p/kg. But it remained more than 30p below the UK equivalent. 

And, of course, when it comes to pig price at the moment, context is everything. Feed prices remain eye-wayeringly high, with wheat prices, albeit down from recent highs, still in the £220/tonne region. 

Most pig producers will be making signifcant losses as we enter 2022, in many cases well beyond the £25/pig deficit recorded for the first half of 2021.

Slaughterings for the shorter week before Christmas, at 135,700 head, were, unsurprisingly,  significantly lower than the week before, although the figure was higher than the same week in 2021.

But the starkest figure to emerge from AHDB's weekly market round-up was the average carcase weight stood of 92.35kg - the heaviest recorded since the SPP began in 2014, and 4.95kg heavier than the same week last year and 6kg above summer 2021 weights.

The figures reinforces anecdotal reports from farms of excessively heavy pigs as a result of the backlog, which still shows no real sign of easing. 


January 5, 2022

#biteintobritish - the next event

Anyone with a connection to the pig industry and with an interest in fighting for its future is urged to turn out at an event organised by the #biteintobritish campaign on Friday. 

  • Those taking part will meet at 9.30am at Tesco’s Seacroft store in Leeds (LS14 6JD) on Friday, January 7.
  • If you are interested in taking part, email

“This will be a positive promotion for #biteintobritish and we want as many people as possible to come to Leeds to help spread the message,” Vicky said.

More HERE


Covid supply chain issues 

We need to know if members are experiencing issues with feed deliveries and other parts of the supply chain due to the resurgence of Covid 19. 

More HERE 


January 4, 2022

Happy New Year - here's to a better one for the Great British pig industry!

#biteintobritish team takes over leading farmer Twitter account

The people behind the #biteintobritish campaign have taken over the popular @FarmersoftheUK Twitter feed this week.

There have been some excellent posts already from a variety of industry figures. Take a look HERE

And keep your eyes peeled for a big #biteintobritish announcement soon...


December 23, 2021 - a festive update

A new #BiteIntoBritish take on a staple Christmas tune was delivered in Yorkshire today by a committed ensemble of Save GB Bacon campaigners.

The singers delivered their version of ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’, with new lyrics from Anna Longthorp and musical direction from Hugh Crabtree, at the Hayton festive Tractor event in East Yorkshire.

Here it is in all its glory

Bite Into British singalong

More details HERE


  • To read the archived NPA pig industry crisis blog - CLICK HERE