Supermarket giant Tesco has become the latest retailer to offer financial help to hard-pressed pig producers, who are currently losing nearly £60/head with average costs in April estimated at 230p/kg.
Tesco has announced an accelerated and enhanced payment plan that will see its suppliers increase payments to farmers by £6.6m until August. The retailer said this would bring its support for farmers to a total of £10m since the start of March.
The announcement followed a letter to its Chief Executive Officer Ken Murphy from National Pig Association chairman Rob Mutimer earlier this month, in which he said the industry had endured an unprecedented crisis over the past 18 months. Mutimer said labour shortages and Covid disruption had led to huge backlogs on farms and the needless culling of tens of thousands of healthy pigs, many within Tesco’s own supply chain.
“This was before Russian’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting additional cost increases pushed farmers from a very challenging financial situation to a critical one.”
Tesco added it had taken more pigs to help clear the extensive backlog of animals on British farms, saying that since January it had taken an extra 32,000 pigs and planned to take a further additional 22,000 in the months ahead.
… not just to help them [farmers] survive, but thrive into the future.
Meanwhile, leading pork processor Karro has announced a new product range on UK shelves. Its “I Love” campaign pledges that 5p for every branded pack sold through retailers will be passed on to independent British farmers. Offering bacon, ham and gammon, Tesco said money raised through the “I Love” branded products would every 4 weeks be divided between the total number of Red Tractor pigs processed during that period and split between qualifying supplying farmers.
Steve Canham, Karro Food Group commercial director said: “The work that Karro is doing to support farmers in need is absolutely vital, especially during what has been a very tough year. We’re very proud of the “I Love” initiative and hope to expand it in the future.”
Zoe Davies, NPA chief executive, praised the positive initiative to get more British pork in retail stores to ensure producers got a better price in the face of the current adversity: “We would like to see as many retailers as possible stock this brand.”
Tesco’s support follows Waitrose’s announcement of a £16m boost at the beginning of the month. Jake Pickering, senior agriculture manager, said the record investment was something he hoped “would help our farmers keep their businesses running in a sustainable way – not just to help them survive, but thrive into the future.”