An East Devon pig farmer has said that the Red Tractor assurance scheme has boosted customer confidence.
Andrew Freemantle, owner of Kenniford Farm at Clyst St Mary said that the assurance mark also means an average 5% higher price for pigs.
Mr Freemantle, who produces 10,000 pigs a year from his 70-acre farm said: “Being part of the scheme means that I get paid more for assured pigs than I would if I wasn’t a member. “Customers trust the tractor as they are confident about the standards of hygiene, animal welfare and farming practices being met, therefore they are confident of the quality of the meat. This has proved especially so during this recession.”
Red Tractor Week is taking place between September 15 - 21.
The Red Tractor assurance for pigs farms assures
food safety, animal welfare, hygiene and environmental protection
through every part of the food chain.
He said that the farm does not produce free-range pigs because the vagaries of weather and his soil type would not suit outdoor farming.
He said that commercial pig farms in the UK produce 160,000 a week compared to organic pig farming that produces 60,000 every year.
“That simply would not be economically viable for us or our customers,” he said.
Mr Freemantle has expanded the farming business to sell premium bacon and sausage products and a catering service which has provided 2,500 hog roasts in the past 14 years.
He has run the business for 20 years and says that managing margins is key to success.
The introduction of farrowing crates in 2008 has reduced the number of young piglets being squashed by their nursing mother, enabling an increase in the number of pigs for sale by 1000 per year.
But the move may mean that the farm loses its RSPCA Freedom Food Status this year.
The farm currently uses a farrowing crate until day-six before putting piglets into a straw pen, a delay not accepted by the RSPCA Freedom Food scheme.
Mr Freemantle said that diversification has been key to success.
Her said: “Since 2006, I’ve increased the number of additional activities such as our Hog Roast stands at outdoor events. Our private catering arm and our wholesale activities have really proved great successes too and in 2008 I expanded the farm shop.
He said: “These combined activities have helped us to remain a successful business.
“My advice to anyone in the business is never miss an opportunity if it presents itself, prepare to work extremely hard and don’t let your core business slip. I have been able to diversify thanks to a great farm management team in Grant and Jo Morrow ”