The Co-op has pledged £19 million in additional payments to the UK pig sector and called on other retailers to recognise the plight of producers.
Supermarket chains including Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S, Asda, Aldi and Tesco have already offered support but the Co-op said “it’s too little but not too late to go further”.
The retailer removed imported bacon from its stores five years ago, and its co-managing director Matt Hood said switching to UK-produced pork is the strongest commitment retailers can give to farmers at a time when the sector is experiencing unprecedented spiralling costs.
The National Pig Association’s chairman, Rob Mutimer, welcomed the extra support which he said would help pork suppliers cover the record costs of production they face.
“Most of the big retailers have acted in some way to inject more money into the supply chain,” he said.
“But while the price increases are very welcome, with wheat having reached £350/tonne this week, they are still not matching soaring input costs.
“The reality is that our beleaguered pig producers remain under huge pressure and, in many cases, are battling just to survive from week to week.
“We still need to see more from some retailers.
“As our industry fights for survival, we urge all the big supermarket chains to always prioritise British pork where they can.”
Meanwhile, an Aberdeenshire pig producer has reminded farming families that emotional support is there for them if it is needed.
Danny Skinner, who farms near Insch, says producers who are feeling overwhelmed should not hesitate to reach out to an organisation like rural charity RSABI.
He said: “With the amount costs have gone up – including feed and energy – it is just not sustainable for many, and we are seeing producers now steadily going out of pigs or increasing their borrowings to worrying levels.
“I think there may be a faint glimmer of light out there, but it is still far away, and there are so many unknowns, which means there is, without doubt, huge pressure on everyone involved in the industry.”
The charity’s chief executive, Carol McLaren, said it was vital that everyone plays a part in supporting and looking out for pig farmers and others in farm businesses which are most vulnerable to the increased costs.
“Our helpline, 0808 1234 555, is friendly, professional and 100% confidential,” she said.