UFU take action on growing NI/GB pig price differential

Friday, 16 January, 2015

Following an emergency meeting of the UFU’s Pork & Bacon Committee, the Union is taking a series of actions to address the growing producer price differential between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Speaking after the meeting UFU Deputy President Ivor Ferguson said: “Pig prices in Northern Ireland have fallen dramatically over the past 6 months, dropping in the region of £25 per finished pig since June with the average pig price now at £1.25/kg, which for many pig farmers leaves no financial reward.  This is causing great concern for pig producers in Northern Ireland who are now questioning the future viability of their businesses.

“We do recognise that the wider EU pigmeat market has also experienced significant price decreases over the same period, but what is particularly concerning to local pig producers is that by contrast, the GB pig price is a much healthier story.  Although pig prices there have followed the same downward trend, this has been to a much lesser extent and farmers in GB can currently expect to obtain an average price of £1.43/kg for their pigs. So, a price differential presently exists between Northern Ireland and the UK Mainland of approximately 15-18p/kg, even though the pig meat produced here in Northern Ireland meets the same strict Red Tractor production standards as across the water.  Our key concern is that this NI/GB price differential has effectively tripled from 5p/kg since the middle of last year to the present 15-18p/kg without any justification as to why this has happened.  To add insult to injury, pig producers in GB also, have the advantage of their feed costs being £20 to £25 per tonne less than the feed price paid in Northern Ireland.”

Also commenting on the worsening situation, UFU Pork and Bacon Committee Chairman, Jonathan Cuddy said: “The Ulster Farmers’ Union is completely baffled by this growing price differential and is particularly disillusioned at the lack of transparency from local pigmeat processors as to the reason for the disparity.  Many pig producers believe that an opportunistic approach is being taken to reduce producer prices below current market returns.  This has also had an adverse knock-on effect on the delivery of the growth objectives for the local pig sector as contained in the NI Agri-Food Strategy Board’s ‘Going for Growth’ Report, with producers questioning the commitment of local processors to operate a single, more transparent supply chain for the delivery of industry growth.

 

“We firmly believe that immediate action needs to be taken to address this in order to prevent long term damage to Northern Ireland’s pig industry.  Our pig farmers are producing a top quality product and should be paid a fair price, especially as our counterparts in GB, who are producing to the same specification, are receiving more for their efforts. The Union has already written to both the DARD and DETI Ministers to ensure that they fully understand these serious producer concerns particularly in the context of delivering on the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s ‘Going for Growth’ Report and seeking their assistance on how to address this particular issue in order to improve the current situation for our pig industry in Northern Ireland.  We also intend to meet with both the NI Assembly’s Agriculture Committee and the British Pig Executive (BPEX) to raise the worsening plight of local pig producers.”