2. Benefits of co-operation
The strong £ continued to keep a lid on UK pig prices in recent weeks. However, they still maintained a significant premium over the EU average, with most major supermarkets continuing to give prominence to ‘British’ pork on their shelves. The ‘confidence index’ among British pig producers declined in the latest BPEX survey, reflecting uncertainty about the future market environment. Another major report highlighted the fragmented nature of the UK food economy and Danish agriculture has again been highlighted as a model of the benefits gained from a more collaborative and integrated approach.
Although EU prices moved ahead in recent weeks, UK pig prices have yet to follow suit. Although the strength of the £ versus the € appears to be holding back a recovery, UK prices nevertheless maintained a significant premium over the EU average price.
The latest BPEX 'Porkwatch' survey confirmed a strong level of support for ‘British’ pork by most major retailers, with over 80% of cabinet facings of the fresh pork category accounted for by ‘British’ – the equivalent figure for bacon was just over 40%.
Support for ‘British’
However, recent figures on overall pig meat consumption showed a less encouraging picture. The BPEX Consumer Category Report
for March showed declines in both value and volume for all the main pig meat categories except bacon.
BPEX published their annual Pig Meat Industry Survey which showed a significant drop in the pig producers’ ‘confidence index’ in March, falling by three points from the 2014 level. It was also felt that lack of pig finishing accommodation would limit any potential increase in output in the coming year.
Another major report, produced by the National Centre for Universities and Business 'Leading Food 4.0: Growing Business-University Collaboration for the UK's Food Economy' acknowledged the major economic contribution made by the food and drink industries, but also highlighted the pressing need for more integration across a wide and often disparate industry, calling for “improved innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship and talent for the food sector”.
More integration needed
In January this year, at the Oxford Farming Conference, the Danish farming and food industry was highlighted in a specially commissioned report, entitled 'The Best British Farmers - what gives them the edge?' as an example of an industry with a strong and co-ordinated research and development infrastructure and ‘closer relationships’ between their farmers and levy bodies and development agencies. The report received significant media coverage, including The Economist.
A recent article in Farmers Weekly also highlighted a number of the benefits flowing from collaboration within the Danish agriculture and food industries.