- A global shortage of cereal crops, driven mainly by drought in the US, has lead to huge spikes in the cost of pig-feed. This in turn means that the cost of producing a pig is now much higher than the price a farmer can sell their animals for.
- Despite previous price spikes in feeds in 2008 and 2011, retail pork prices have remained relatively stable and many farmers are no longer making a profit. The introduction of the pig welfare directive regulations (which the UK already adheres to), that will come into force at the end of the year, have already pushed up pig prices elsewhere in the EU.
- The UK imports about 60% of its pig meat from other EU countries, and the industry is expecting the amount of pork available for importing to be significantly less over the next year.
The National Pig Association warns that unless pork prices go up by a “modest amount now” to keep pig farmers in business, shortages will bring “inevitable record prices” in 2013. Whether UK consumers are prepared to spend more to buy British pork and support pig farmers is not yet known. Both consumers and producers may need support in order to safeguard British pork production and that low income families may struggle to afford even the cheaper cuts of pork. There is the potential need to raise awareness that producers cannot absorb these increases without passing on some of that cost to retailers and consumers.