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Industry leaders have welcomed a government pledge to repair what is widely seen as a broken pork supply chain – and say retailers must... Minister pledges to repair ‘broken’ pig supply chain

Pig contracts to be regulated

Industry leaders have welcomed a government pledge to repair what is widely seen as a broken pork supply chain – and say retailers must play their part too.

It follows a Defra commitment to regulate pig contracts in a way that aims to give producers greater stability and security – and help them deal with rising input costs and labour shortages caused.

Defra farm minister Mark Spencer said legally required written contracts would remove uncertainty and ambiguity, with most respondents to a public consultation supporting the government’s approach to implement this through legislation.

Mr Spencer said: “The pig sector has faced unprecedented challenges over the last year, with rising costs and global labour shortages putting real pressure on producers and processors.

“We are committed to working with the sector, and the regulations set to be introduced will ensure fairness and transparency across the supply chain – from pig to pork to plate – to help the sector to thrive in the future.”

Supply chain data

As well as regulation on written contracts, the government has promosed to develop regulations to collect and share more supply chain data, particularly in relation to wholesale price transparency and national slaughter numbers.

It says increasing the availability of this data within the supply chain will help market reporting services better reflect the entire UK market – helping to further reduce ambiguity for everyone in the pig sector.

Clear message

The National Pig Association welcomed the commitments, saying the government had addressed most of its key demands. But it said wider issues further up the supply chain – including the actions of retailers – must also be addressed.

NPA chairman and Norfolk pig producer Rob Mutimer said: “We are very pleased that Defra has taken on board the very clear messages from the NPA and the wider industry about what needs to be done to fix our broken supply chain.

“For too long, producers have been treated poorly and contracts have not been worth the paper they were written on – and we have seen some disastrous consequences of that behaviour over the past two years.

“We believe the measures set out today, including legal underpinning for contracts that delivers a fair transparent and negotiable contract system, will help deliver a fairer and more sustainable environment for pig producers.”