However, it is still possible for supermarkets and the British consumer to protect against shortages and steep price rises if they pay more now to help pig farmers stay in production.
New EU data has shown the global pig herd to be declining at a notable rate, as many pig farmers become “plunged into loss” by high feed costs caused by the global failure of maize and soya harvests.
The main European pig-producing countries have reported shrinking sow herds, with some of the highest countries seeing reductions of 13% (Italy) and 9.6% (Poland).
NPA chairman Richard Longthorp said: “British supermarkets know they have to raise the price they pay Britain’s pig farmers or risk empty spaces on their shelves next year. But competition is so fierce at present, and each is waiting for the other to move first.”
Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s announced an increase in the price paid to a few of its farm suppliers, but the NPA said similar moves were overdue.
Bpex director Mick Sloyan warned a private meeting of British and mainland Europe retailers at a Brussels summit last week that a fall of just 2% in slaughterings next year would cause prices to rise by as much as 10%.
The NPA has also warned of price rises next year, which would inevitably cause the price of European pork prices to double.
Pig herd decline across Europe:
- Denmark - 2.3%
- Germany - 1.3%
- Ireland - 6.6%
- Spain - 2.8%
- France - 3.2%
- Italy - 13%
- Hungary - 5%
- Netherlands - 3.6%
- Austria - 2.8%
- Poland - 9.6%
- Sweden - 7.2%