UK: Shoppers urged to save pork producers’ bacon as feed crisis deepens

Bacon, Britain’s favourite food, is under threat with 10% of pig producers saying they may be forced to quit by Christmas, according to the National Pig Association (NPA).

It says that around 1.5m rashers of British bacon a week look likely to disappear from supermarket shelves while 2.3m sausages a week are also at risk of disappearing, another high-scoring favourite in the Top 100 Foods Index. It will also mean less British sausage rolls and pork pies on the shelves.

The NPA, which blames poor crop growing weather around the world for making pig feed too expensive for British farmers, is urging shoppers to make a special effort to support them over the months ahead.

“If supermarkets see a surge in demand for British products, they may be persuaded to pay our farmers the few extra pennies a kilo more they need to cover their soaring feed bills,” said NPA general manager Dr Zoe Davies.

“So we are asking shoppers, who have always been incredibly loyal in the past, to please be extra careful to look for the British Red Tractor logo on bacon, sausages, and pork.”

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The NPA acknowledges that empty spaces on supermarket shelves could be filled with imported bacon and sausages but that these would not be produced to British welfare standards. European pork products will also soon be in shorter supply too as the European Commission expects European pig production to shrink next year.

British pig farmers have faced a 25% increase in the cost of pig feed ingredients, such as wheat and soya, in recent weeks as a result of poor crop-growing conditions, particularly in the United States.

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At the same time, intense high street rivalry is making supermarkets reluctant to pay farmers more to cover their extra costs of production.

In a survey just completed by the NPA, pig farmers representing 10% of Britain’s weekly pig production say if they don’t see a fair price between now and Christmas they will have no option but to stop production — because they cannot afford to feed their animals.

In addition to the loss of 1.5m British bacon rashers and 2.3m British sausages a week, this will mean:

• 1.5m fewer British sausage rolls;

• 250,000 fewer British pork pies;

• 300,000 fewer British pork chops;

• 63,000 fewer British rolled shoulder joints;

• And 31,000 fewer British leg roasts.

The NPA wants to persuade the pork supply chain to work together towards a producer price that reflects the recent rises in feed prices.

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