We are only at the start of the pig industry's recovery - Lizzie tells Farming Today
27th Feb 2023 / By Alistair Driver
The UK pig sector is still facing soaring costs and can only be considered to be at the start of a very long road to recovery, NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson has told the BBC.
She began by explaining that, despite record pig prices, which topped 207p/kg last week, producers are still seeing unprecedented feed costs, with wheat at £230-£240/tonne and soya at £500t, with high energy, labour and other costs on top. The most recent AHDB net margin figures showed producers were still losing £17/head in the final quarter of 2022.
“So sadly, even though the pig price is really robust at the minute, it is still not enough to ensure that producers are making a margin. Then, when you consider that that it's off the back of two years of continual financial haemorrhaging, that's a really big black hole to try and backfill and it's going take some time to recover from that,” she said.
- You can listen to the interview HERE (about 7 mins in)
With the latest Defra census figures showing a 20% contraction in the English breeding herd, Lizzie confirmed that there is currently a ‘definite tightening in supply’ due to people being forced out of business because their financial situation, but also due to the impact of last summer’s heatwave on fertility.
Pork supply chain review
Asked about Defra’s review into the pork supply chain, Lizzie said the initial summary of responses was expected ‘very shortly, hopefully about the end of this month’. “Hopefully, we will be able to make progress quite quickly from thereon in,” she said.
Summarising the NPA’s main asks, she said wanted to see some sort of legislation to underpin new pig contracts that will allow producers to negotiate much better and fairer terms with processors, incorporating a pricing mechanism and an effective dispute resolution mechanism. The NPA also wants to see better forecasting of what is happening in the supply chain and for retailers and pork buyers to make better use of the entire pig carcase than they do currently.
Finally, asked to summarise, the temperature of the pig sector at the moment, she added: “I would say it's at the very start of recovery. Producers are a little more buoyant, but they're still very, very cautious. It’s going to be a good couple of years, I would suggest, until we get back to where we were a couple of years ago, when we were in a far more positive position.”