The Scottish pig industry should strive to have its produce protected under European law, claims a north-east pig producer.
According to Roderic Bruce, who farms at Logierieve, Udny, there is no reason why Scottish pork cannot obtain the same European PGI (Protected Geographic Indication) status as Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb.
Mr Bruce, who is chairman of a recently formed Scottish pig farmers’ co-operative QPL, made his comments at a meeting of the regional agricultural advisory group (Nesaag). The group comprises councillors from Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, Angus and Moray councils.
QPL is a partnership between Scotlean, Scottish Pig producers and Tulip – the UK subsidiary of Danish Crown.
Last year the partnership bought the pig processing facility at Brechin from AP Jess and improvement works, which will see throughput at the site increase from 4,000 to 8,000 pigs a week, are expected to be finished by the end of the year.
The project was funded by a £7million loan from Norway’s Nordea Bank and a £2.7million grant from the Scottish Government.
“This is a huge opportunity for the pig industry,” said Mr Bruce, who admits he didn’t always believe such a partnership could be formed following the closure of a major processing plant three years ago.
In 2012 the sector lost its biggest processing facility when Dutch firm Vion closed the Hall’s of Broxburn plant, which at the time processed around 70% of Scottish pigmeat.
Its closure resulted in the bulk of Scottish pigs travelling south to Malton in Yorkshire for slaughter.
Mr Bruce said the improved abattoir facilities should help reverse this.
“Some people say that Tulip is not the best partner for this but they were the only show in town and we are working away just fine with them,” he said.
“Through the negotiations I was keen that producers should not be putting in too much money because I think we need to invest on farm. The suppliers to the plant own it, with operations run by QPL and day-to-day management done by Tulip. It’s more efficient.”
The project would not have gone ahead without the support from retailers who were demanding Scottish born, reared and slaughtered pigmeat on their shelves, added Mr Bruce.
This demand and the fact the Specially Selected Pork brand’s farm assurance – run by Quality Meat Scotland – sees farms inspected by the SSPCA, provides the perfect opportunity to build the brand of Scottish pork, he said.
“Pigs born, reared and slaughtered in Scotland – could we not get PGI status for that?” said Mr Bruce.
“We are looking for the quality product for the mass market. Even in supermarkets now there’s a whole range [of pork] on the shelves.”