Pig farmers are being encouraged to back a national campaign to get shoppers buying more British pork.
The National Pig Association (NPA) has launched a campaign – Make It British Pork – to rally support for home-produced meat and deter butchers and retailers from stocking imported pork.
It warns plummeting prices for EU pork could lead to an increase in imports being offered to shoppers.
According to NPA data, the UK standard pig price (SPP) has remained steady throughout the Covid-19 crisis as the sector has been less affected by the closure of foodservice outlets, which tend to stock imported pork.
The SPP stood at 164.34p per kg during the week ended May 16, compared with just over 163p per kg in early March. The EU reference price, however, has fallen drastically during the coronavirus crisis – it was just under 144p per kg in the week to May 10, compared to 172p per kg in late March.
The NPA said the collapse in the European price had started to lead to an influx of cheap EU pork products into the UK.
“The concern is that butchers, whose popularity has sky-rocketed as people try to support local businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak, might be tempted by cheap pork that is coming in through wholesalers and switch from their usual British product,” said NPA chief executive Zoe Davies.
“Online meat wholesalers, too, are doing a roaring trade offering great deals on social media. Supermarkets may also be tempted by the lower prices, although it is far easier to track and therefore challenge these changes.”
She said the #MakeitBritishPork cam-paign was designed to counter this threat by drumming up demand.
“There is no doubt that some outlets will be tempted by the cheaper prices of imports on offer, so we want to raise customer awareness, and ask them to check the origin of what they are buying and ensure it is British,” added Ms Davies.
“We expect the supply chain to back the British pig industry.”