Pig Farmers Thank the Nation26 October 2012
UK - Britain's pig farmers have launched a 19 city, nationwide tour, serving up free bacon and sausage sandwiches to thank shoppers for supporting them, as high costs and losses threaten to drive many farms out of business.
Rugby legend and farmer's son Phil Vickery joined farmers to kick-off their tour, driving a Red Tractor through central London, handing out the first bacon sandwiches to hungry builders and office workers.
Pig farmers have seen their production costs soar as droughts and crop failures around the world have driven up the price of feed and currently face losses of £12 per pig. This means retail prices for pork, bacon, sausages and ham, like many foods, are likely to increase over the coming weeks.
But consumers have said they are prepared to support farmers and pay a little bit more for meat from pigs produced by responsible farmers who meet Red Tractor standards. Pig farmers launched the campaign to show their appreciation.
"All the indications are that pork, bacon and sausages, like other foods will go up in price over the coming months. We wanted to say a big thanks to shoppers in advance for sticking with us. Giving out free bacon and sausages sandwiches seemed like the natural way to do it," said Richard Longthorp, chairman of the National Pig Association.
"We really appreciate the support from the public especially as we know a lot of people are feeling the pinch at the moment. All we are asking people to do is stick with us and keep buying Red Tractor, pork, bacon, sausages and ham and we'll stick with them and keep producing the high quality pork they all love"
Speaking at the launch Phil Vickery said: "As a farmer's son I've always been supportive of countryside issues and as a keen cook I'm really passionate about quality ingredients. We produce some of the best pork in the world in this country but our pig farmers are struggling due to high costs. It's great to see that the public are prepared to support farmers and that the majority say they are happy to pay a little bit more for pork, bacon and ham, produced responsibly by Red Tractor farmers."
A YouGov poll published earlier this month showed the levels of public support for Red Tractor pig farmers. When told about the issues facing farmers nearly two-thirds of people (63 per cent) agreed that it is right for consumers to pay a little more for responsibly produced food if farmers' costs had increased due to circumstances outside their control.
A report released last week by BPEX, which represents British pig farmers showed how a small increase of as little as 7-14p on a pack of bacon would allow pig farmers to break even. However, if farmers do go out of business and supply falls shoppers could face prices rises of up to 70p per pack by next year.
Pig Farmers will visit 18 towns and cities with their Red Tractor in November and are calling on the public to vote online to choose whether they want bacon or sausage sandwiches at each stop. For full details of where to pick up a free bacon or sausage sandwich and cast your vote visit www.facebook.com/lovepork.uk.
TheMeatSite News desk