Tesco and the Co-op confirm commitment to pig industry

25 May 2022

Farm business Food supply chain
Two piglets standing in a field

Major retailers the Co-op and Tesco have announced their intentions to support British pork producers to help ease the crisis in the pig industry.

The Co-op has announced a £19 million package for its pig farmer suppliers and has challenged other retailers to “go the whole hog” by switching to British supply.

The retailer, which has a 6% share of the market, will link prices to the costs of production to help address crisis-level pressures in the sector.

Helping more British farmers

“It’s not too late for supermarkets to do their bit to help more British farmers,” said Co-op Food Co-MD Matt Hood.

Pig producers have seen soaring input costs, an acute labour shortage that led to a processing backlog of up to 150,000 animals, and a decline in exports, leading to a “flow of producers exiting the industry”, in the words of the NPA (National Pig Association).

NPA call for retailers to do more

The move follows a pledge from Tesco to provide £6.6 million of ‘accelerated and enhanced payments’ for its suppliers, after a call from the NPA for Britain’s biggest retailer to do more.

Tesco says its measures will take its support since March past £10m, including buying 54,000 extra pigs, in-store promotions and moving more lines to British supply.

NFU urging supermarkets to take action

The NFU urged “all supermarkets to take similar action” in April, after Waitrose tabled a £16m pig crisis package and Sainsbury’s said it would invest £2.8m.

“Most of the big retailers have now acted in some way to inject more money into the supply chain,” said NPA chair Rob Mutimer.

He said the price pledges were very welcome, but added that with a spot price at 173p/kg and average costs estimated at more than 230p/kg, many pig farmers faced a bleak outlook.

Farmers surviving week to week

“The reality is that our beleaguered pig producers remain under huge pressure and, in many cases, are battling just to survive from week to week,” he said. “We still need to see more from some retailers.”

Pigs

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