Belgium: Pig producers block distribution centres

17-07-2009 | |

Angry pig producers have blocked access to four large retailer distribution centres in Belgium last night, the Flemish Information Centre for Agri- and Horticulture reports in its newsletter.

According to the Flemish union for pig producers (VeVa), about 750 agricultural producers and protesters joined in. They are said not to understand how it is possible that prices drop while demand is growing and supplies have shrunk.

Producers are said to be unhappy to be suffering from financial losses for several years now and demand ‘just’ prices for their pork. They blocked distribution centres of retailers Colruyt (in Halle), Lidl (in Gullegem), and two of Aldi (in Roeselare and Erpe-Mere). The producers are said not to give up the blocking soon.

“If there will be no higher prices, a large number of pork producers may collapse under the suffocating pressure from retailers,” VeVa chairman Geert Wallays was quoted to say. He is convinced that the free market system is being manipulated. “Over the last weeks, prices have even decreased despite good barbecue weather, the large demand and the shrinking number of pigs. This is not correct.”

Wallays went on to say that discounters cheat on their customers in the long term, when fighting to be the cheapest. “Short-term, customers get food for low prices, but it would be impossible for producers to continue to produce below cost price. The sector is just wrung out and eventually the customers will know as well.”

New price system
The pig producers demand prices that will ‘at least cover the costs of production’. According to VeVa, a new price system for the whole pig industry urgently needs to be put in place, as the sector ‘is bleeding to death rapidly’. Retailer Colruyt is said to have taken notice of the protests.

VeVa has also asked other Belgian organisations for their support, but so far they have kept low key.

Related websites
• VeVa©(in Dutch)
• Flemish Information Centre for Agri- and Horticulture (VILT)©
• Lidl (in Dutch and French)
• Colruyt©(in Dutch and French)
• Aldi