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Modest rise in pork prices now will save big hike later

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 23, 2012

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Shoppers could have to fork out up to 60p more for a packet of eight sausages, 70p more for a standard pack of bacon or £2.50 extra for a pork roasting joint within months, if mounting costs force more pig farmers out of business.

But small increases now in the price shoppers pay for bacon, sausages and ham would keep farmers in business and stave off price increases, according to a report from the British Pig Executive (BPEX). It shows how modest price rises of as little as 7p on a pack of bacon today could keep pig farmers in business and avoid bigger price hikes for shoppers in the future.

Consumer research by BPEX shows consumers would be supportive of modest rises, with nearly two-thirds of people agreeing that it is right for consumers to pay a little more for responsibly produced food, if farmers' costs have increased due to circumstances outside their control.

Crop production around the world has been significantly affected by drought, driving up the cost of pig feed, which makes up 65% of pig farmers' costs. Dramatic price increases in the past months mean that pig farmers' cost of production has rocketed. Without a price increase, losses for the industry are likely to hit £100 million over the next six months – with many farmers possibly forced out of business.

The domestic pig herd, and herds across Europe, could be cut by 8%, as farmers reduce production – or give up. An 8% decrease could lead to a price increase of around 50p per kilo. When translated into retail prices this would mean an increase of up to £1.40 on a pack of four pork chops, £2.50 on a leg roasting joint, 60p on a pack of sausages, 70p on a pack of bacon or 45p on a pack of sandwich ham.

BPEX's report shows how a far more modest increase of 10p now would return pig farmers to break even.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, with scores of MPs and MEPs, have pledged their support for the pig farmers' "Save Our Bacon Campaign", which has attracted coverage around the world.

This urges shoppers to look for the independent Red Tractor logo when shopping, as this proves the meat comes from British farms, which have higher welfare standards than many foreign pig farms.

Mrs May said: "British pig farms can be rightfully proud of the high-quality and high-welfare pork and pork products they produce. Ministers welcome the chance to encourage people to support these standards and buy pig products endorsed with the Red Tractor logo."

National Pig Association general manager Dr Zoe Davies said: "We asked our members to contact their MPs about the campaign and the response has been quite remarkable.

"At a time when many pig producers simply don't know if they can hang on until they get a fair price to cover their increased costs of production, the support of so many leading figures in British politics has been an incredible boost to their morale."

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