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‘British banger’ under threat as farmers struggle with costs

The future of the great British banger is being threatened by a shortage of home- produced pork.

Supermarkets have been warned they will go short of British sausages, pork chops and bacon unless they increase the amount they pay pig farmers for their meat.

Farmers have been hit by a 30 per cent rise in the cost of pig feed in the past year – and many say they will be forced out of business if they are not allowed to pass on the costs.

Producers say the industry stands to lose about £200million over the next 12 months and are urging the big supermarkets, which between them buy 70 per cent of Britain’s pork, to pay more for their meat to restore profitability.

Ian Campbell, of the National Pig Association, said: ‘A year ago wheat, the main ingredient in pig feed, cost £70 a ton. Now it’s up to £200 a ton in some areas.

‘Producers are saying, “This has gone far enough. This is a foolish business for me to be in because the risks far outweigh any benefit.” The retailers have made a really strong point over the past few years about the importance of locally produced, high-welfare, traceable produce. Sadly, we are now in a situation where that supply is going to disappear.’

If the supermarkets accept the proposed price hike, the British Pig Executive –the industry’s regulatory body – predicts a pack of eight sausages will go up from £1.99 to around £2.15 and an eight-rasher pack of smoked back bacon from £2.99 to £3.15.

The rise could also see a packet of two pork chops go up from £1.81 to just under £2, a pork pie from 95p to £1.02 and, at the top end of the market, a 3lb free-range boneless roasting joint increase from £13.50 to nearly £14.

Farmers believe shoppers are prepared to accept the rises – but supermarkets fear they will cut demand.

There was support for the pig farmers from the Queen’s sausage-maker.

Christopher Sheen, director of Musk’s of Newmarket, which has had a Royal warrant since 1907, said: ‘The industry has been through a very difficult time recently and pig farmers are feeling the pinch. Pork is a staple part of the British diet and it would be a great shame if it lost its prime place at the dining table.’

Full story from the Daily Mail

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