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EFRA Committee Food Security inquiry discusses pig industry crisis

18th Nov 2022 / By Charlie Dewhirst

The plight of the UK pig industry was highlighted a recent evidence session of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.

Charlie DewhirstAs part of their inquiry into Food Security, the Committee heard from the NFU, AHDB and Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) about how rising production costs are affecting the food supply chain.

Later the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) and Food and Drink Federation (FDF) gave their insights into the current inflationary crisis and its impact on food production.

NFU President, Minette Batters, spoke about the importance of securing domestic food supply and its future impact on prices if there is less food available. She highlighted the contraction of the UK pig industry as an example of a sector where less domestically produced food will be available because the sector has suffered so badly in the last two years.

In response to questions from EFRA Committee member, Dr Neil Hudson MP, Minette said: “Food should sit at the heart of Government, along with energy security. There is a danger if we try to leave it in one Department.

"The Farming Minister, Mark Spencer, is doing an outstanding job, but I applaud what the Prime Minister set out in the summer that he wanted to do by bringing about a roundtable discussion every year to look at our domestic food security. That really needs to happen, because this impacts on every Department.”

Ed Barker, formerly of the NPA and now at AIC, raised the issue of investment in infrastructure in the pig industry because of the hugely inflated costs and higher interest rates impacting loans.

He said: “Growing food affordably and efficiently to a quality that we want requires considerable investment decisions.”

In the second half of the evidence session, Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the BRC detailed the impact of consumer behaviour and how important price has become in decision making.

He explained: “Consumers are really the ones who are driving the market. That is then affecting some of the sales of products for the pork industry, for example, and others. Those industries are also heavily reliant on things like carcase balance to make the most of it, so they are also looking at exports to try to supplement that.”

The NPA has previously submitted written evidence to the Committee as part of this inquiry and you can read it here.

You can also watch the oral evidence session here and read the transcript here.