Lidl invests £500 million into British pig sector

Lidl pig
Photo: ANP

Supermarket chain Lidl has announced iit will invest £500 million (€585 million) to bolster the British pork industry. This investment ensures the continued production of high-quality British product at the best possible prices for customers, the retailer says.

Lidl is a major player on the British groceries market, where it opened its first store in 1994. With 960 locations and a number of new shops constantly in the pipeline, the German discounter is now the 6th largest supermarket operator in the country with a market share of 7.7%. For fresh pork, it even takes the 4th spot with an 11% market share.

Addressing recent sector-wide challenges

Lidi is now taking action to address recent sector-wide challenges for the pig and pork industry, the company states. These include rising costs, a Chinese import ban on EU pork, and butcher shortages, which led to a significant backlog of healthy pigs and financial worries for producers. Being the second-largest retailer to have a 100% everyday fresh British pork pledge, the move represents a doubling down by the discounter on its support for British producers through the introduction of its new ‘Lidl Pork Standard’.

Lidl Pork Standard

As part of its new standard, Lidl has moved pork producers to an open-book producer costing model that includes the on-farm cost of production, guarantees minimum producer volumes, and includes a fixed margin for farmers. This change was developed in collaboration with pork producers through its newly created ‘Lidl Pork Producer Group’, as the retailer recognises the need for a more sustainable pricing model within the pork sector for suppliers and farmers.

Research and development projects

Through its new pork producer group, Lidl will fund research and development projects aimed at mimicking the natural behaviours of pigs, such as rooting, sniffing and chewing, in turn improving their overall wellbeing. In a new trial, 3D cameras have been introduced to record the nature and frequency of the animals’ enrichment interactions, with the data being subsequently used to enhance welfare.

Assessing carbon footprint

As part of the 3-pronged approach and through collaborative efforts, Lidl is investing in assessing the carbon footprint of all the farms in its pork producer group and subsequently putting plans in place to reduce these emissions. Alongside this, it will also be investing over £250,000 (€293,000) in at-risk GB catchments to support river health and water quality, while working to achieve deforestation-free soy sourcing by the end of 2025.

Richard Bourns, chief commercial officer at Lidl GB, said: “This latest investment underlines our commitment to British producers, animal welfare and the environment. Acknowledging the challenges faced by the industry and its farmers in recent years, we recognised the need for intervention and the development of a bespoke solution addressing these challenges. That is why we have been working closely with our suppliers and farmers, including major partners such as Cranswick and Pilgrim’s, to ensure we understand the intricacies of this supply chain and will deliver impactful change.”

“With our pork market share significantly greater than our broader market share, it highlights the substantial influence we have in this area and we are embracing our responsibility to drive positive change. Our new pork standard is all about supporting our rural communities and ensuring the resilience of the sector while providing customers with high-quality British pork at affordable prices.” Lizzie Wilson, chief executive of the National Pig Association (NPA), added: “The NPA welcomes the introduction of Lidl’s pork producer contracts and its continued commitment to ensuring a sustainable domestic supply of British pork.”

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