British worry about pig imports from continent

24-07-2009 | |

British pig producers are seriously worried about the possible imports of piglets from the European continent. The animals may bring diseases, they fear – and the sale of this meat may lead to the deterioration of the British quality system.

The British National Pig Association (NPA) has therefore launched a campaign to prevent a trade of continental pigs at any price.


So far, producers representing over a third of the British national pig herd have voted in the NPA’s poll on whether or not the British pig industry should welcome commercial weaners from the continent, or whether it should do its best to disrupt the trade.

Overwhelmingly producers are opposed to the trade because of the inherent disease risks and the majority are prepared to take action to protect the credentials of British pork.

Some respondents have called on the allied trades to refuse knowingly to supply any farmer who takes delivery of imported weaners. Some key announcements are expected on this front soon.

Importing pigs

Pig producers from e.g. the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium, but also British farmers, have been looking seriously into the option to import pigs to the UK for finishing there. This is mainly because British pig prices have been above EU average for months. In addition, e.g. Dutch piglets cost about half the price as British piglets. In addition, interest may rise due to a good rate of the Euro vs the British pound. First shipments of Dutch piglets into the UK are expected shortly.

The main fear for British producers is that infections like Methicyllin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Classical Swine Fever (CSF), Aujeszky’s Disease or PRRS varieties could be imported, they fear – although both Denmark and the Netherlands are officially free from Aujeszky’s Disease. The British authorities are not allowed to test animals on these diseases, due to EU regulations.

Importing breeding animals from e.g. Denmark and the Netherlands is considered safe, but importing piglets is a completely different story.


The high health status in Britain is linked to the fact that the country is an island. The meat from imported piglets will not qualify for British quality brands, which means that more than ever its country of origin needs to be registered.©

Welfare groups have applauded the NPA action as they claim live import of piglets is thought to pose a high threat to animal welfare.

Related website:

National Pig Association (NPA)

ter Beek
Vincent ter Beek Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world