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AHDB Pork chair calls for improved supply chain relationships

4th Nov 2016 / By Alistair Driver

AHDB Pork chair Meryl Ward has called for all partners in the pork supply chain to forge better working relationships to ensure a fairer distribution of profits. 

Meryl WardAddressing the David Black Award breakfast in the House of Lords this week, Mrs Ward said pig producers had endured a mixed year.

She highlighted the ‘major industry success’ of this year’s ‘unprecedented’ growth in exports, which are set to set hit a record of £400 million in 2016 - worth £35/pig.

However, the recent surge in pig prices, partly driven by this export growth, followed a torrid time for producers as food deflation put pressure down the chain and despite.

She said: “Despite the value of exports and the £13 million additional sales contributed by the pulled pork campaign, producers have had a very difficult first half of the year with many farm businesses facing negative margins.”

Mrs Ward said the 'enviable choice' for consumers of purchasing options based on different production systems provided the industry with ‘further clear differentiation from our competitors’.

“Our product in both health and welfare standards and value has never been so attractive against our European competitors. At only 40 per cent  self-sufficiency on the domestic market, we have plenty of headroom for growth,” she said.

She added: “There is an onus on all partners in the chain to work towards better supply chain relationships and ways of working together to improve confidence at all levels to stimulate investment. 

“We have a short chain of only retailers, processors and producers and leaving one part of that chain unprofitable when there is profit in the chain at any time serves no purpose.”

She also called for help from the Government in the form of a new Health and Welfare Stewardship Scheme, similar to the environmental stewardship scheme.

Mrs Ward said: “If we are to unlock the full potential to grow our markets further we also need direction and policy from Government to help a new generation of producers invest in the pig farms of the future to renew our housing and systems of working to meet the latest environmental and welfare standards”

Mrs Ward praised the work of David Black award winner Susanna Williamson and her team at APHA helping maintain biosecurity standards within the UK herd and horizon scanning for potential new diseases.

British brand 

Defra Minister Lord Gardiner praised the pig industry’s ‘dynamism, forward-thinking and commitment to innovation and research’ and said it was therefore well-placed to make the most of opportunity provided by the Brexit vote.

He also highlighted the benefits of UK production standards in the global marketplace, a familiar theme among Defra Ministers. 

"Our high standards of animal health and welfare are a key selling point worldwide, he said. 

“To me, animal husbandry is something all of us raised on farms care about. I have yet to meet any farmer who does not care passionately about their stock. Almost half the British pig herd is outdoor bred, which is another point of difference.”

“Given the importance of the export market to the profitability of the sector, differentiation when comparing global pig production methods becomes even more critical as we look to expand our markets.

“Supply chain traceability, independently verified assurance and higher welfare standards – all of these distinguish British pork from competitors."