A WORLDWIDE shortage of bacon and sausages is predicted for next year with pig farmers across the globe quitting production due to soaring overhead costs.
Pig feed is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many farmers after a disastrous harvest season, which has seen crops ruined by drought in the United Sates and Russia or washed out due to heavy rains in Britain and the rest of Europe.
The knock on effect is that prices of animal feed have risen by as much as 25 per cent, something experts say could potentially be catastrophic for producers.
The warning from the National Pig Association (NPA) comes after research showed that pig farmers responsible for as much as 10 per cent of the country’s pig production could find themselves forced out of business before the end of the year if prices they receive do not improve.
The NPA is supported by market intelligence from the British Pig Executive, which showed that producers are making a loss on every pig they sell.
They say the problem is particularly acute in the UK due to the high welfare standards operated on Britain’s farms, with shoppers being urged to do their bit to help safeguard the future of British pork.
Farming leaders are asking consumers to make a special effort to buy only packs carrying British farming’s own Red Tractor logo.
The problem is, however, now spreading worldwide and Governments are becoming increasingly concerned.
Around the world, pig farmers are selling their herds because they can no longer afford to feed their pigs.
In the United States the government has introduced a pork-buying programme in an attempt to keep its pig farmers in business and the Chinese government is putting pork into cold storage, as a buffer against shortages and high prices next year.
A meeting between pig industry leaders from across the European Union was held in London yesterday to explore ways to ensure pork remains the world’s most affordable red meat.
Reports from the meeting said that pig herds are being sold because prices in supermarkets are not rising fast enough to cover the cost of record-high pig-feed costs.
“It usually takes at least six months for higher production costs to filter through to shop prices — but pig farmers simply haven’t got that long,” said National Pig Association chairman Richard Longthorp, who farms outdoor pigs in Howden in East Yorkshire.
“Some have got only a few weeks left before they run out of credit at the bank and have to sell up, and this is happening all over Europe.”
“Pork has always been the affordable meat. It’s half the price of beef and lamb,” said Mr Longthorp.
“We urgently need the retail price to go up by a modest amount to keep pig farmers in business, but we want it to remain the most affordable red meat.
“Some forecasters believe the price will increase by over a third eventually.
“But we would rather see a more immediate, modest but sustainable rise that would allow producers to get into profit sooner thereby preventing the wholesale reduction in the pig herd with the inevitable record prices that would follow.”
Pig farming is a lynchpin of Yorkshire’s farming industry, particularly in the East Riding area with as much as a quarter of the English pig herd thought to be on Yorkshire farms.
Meanwhile arable farmers in much of Yorkshire are still struggling with challenging harvesting after one of the wettest growing periods on record.