Representatives from the Northern Ireland Pig Industry have met with the British Pigs Executive (BPEX) to exchange views on the pig industry at a time when it is facing a potentially tough year.
In attendance were, UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson, pig committee chairman Jonathan Cuddy, pig committee vice chairman Derek Hall, UFU policy officer Roger Allen, NI Pork & Bacon Forum CEO Deirdre McIvor, BPEX chief executive Mick Sloyan, BPEX technical director Andrew Knowles and BPEX chairman Stewart Houston.
UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson said: “Northern Ireland producers fear they are on the verge of crisis as the pricing differential widens between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“While this is not an easy subject to address, recent debates between processor and producer at the forum board meeting have led to a willingness for both parties to discuss the matter further and get visibility on the limits of the market.
“There is a point below which farmers will find it difficult to survive and processors need to understand that. They in turn need to give greater visibility on the market so that together our industry can face the tough time ahead and have an industry left to develop for the future.”
NI Pork and Bacon Forum CEO Deirdre McIvor continued: “BPEX informed us that the main retailers have committed to British pork (Red Tractor) for fresh product, which is significant. Horsegate is still in the memory of consumers which strengthens the value of our British Quality Assured Product with all its inherent traceability.
“Overall, GB pig production is forecast to increase by ca 2% in the year ahead. Despite this, the gap in price may prove too difficult for the retail buyer to resist cheaper EU product, particularly where cured product is concerned. On the flip side, any recovery in consumer demand would help to support prices.”
Another key area discussed was export market access. BPEX and the NI Pork and Bacon Forum have been working hard to secure inspection visits to gain approval for the Chinese market and will continue to do so.
The UFU also updated BPEX on how things are progressing with the NI Pigmeat DNA Certification Programme. In addition, EU proposals on medicated animal feed, and PEDv were discussed at length.
Mr Ferguson concluded: “Overall, our meeting was very useful and we will maintain in contact with BPEX and continue to exchange views and share market insights. We will also be meeting with the Northern Ireland Agriculture Committee next week to highlight these points directly to them.”