By Daniel Hunter
Bacon is Britain's favourite food, according to the Top 100 Foods Index – but it is under threat.
1.5m rashers of British bacon a week look likely to disappear from supermarket shelves. Also in danger of disappearing are 2.3m sausages a week, another high-scoring favourite in the Top 100 Foods Index.
The culprit is poor crop growing weather around the world, making pig feed too expensive for British farmers to afford.
In a bid to save the situation, British pig farmers, who are recognised as world leaders in higher welfare pig farming, are asking shoppers to make a special effort to support them over the exceptional few months ahead.
"If supermarkets see a surge in demand for British product, they may be persuaded to pay our farmers the few extra pennies a kilo more they need to cover their soaring feed bills,” said National Pig Association general manager Dr Zoe Davies.
"So we are asking shoppers, who have always been incredibly loyal in the past, to please be extra careful to look for the British Red Tractor logo on bacon, sausages, and pork."
The National Pig Association acknowledges that empty spaces on supermarket shelves could be filled with imported bacon and sausages, but these would not be produced to British welfare standards. In any case European pork products will soon be in shorter supply too, as the European Commission expects European pig production to shrink next year.
The problem for British pig farmers is that the cost of pig feed ingredients such as wheat and soya has increased over 25 percent in recent weeks as a result of poor crop-growing conditions, particularly in the United States.
At the same time, intense high street rivalry is making supermarkets reluctant to pay farmers more to cover their extra costs of production.
In a survey just completed by the National Pig Association, pig farmers representing ten percent of Britain's weekly pig production say if they don't see a fair price between now and Christmas they will have no option but to stop production – because they cannot afford to feed their animals.
In addition to the loss of 1.5m British bacon rashers and 2.3m British sausages a week, this will mean...
-1.5m fewer British sausage rolls
- 250,000 fewer British pork pies
- 300,000 fewer British pork chops
- 63,000 fewer British rolled shoulder joints
- And 31,000 fewer British leg roasts.
Over the next few weeks, British pig farmers need to persuade all actors in the pork supply chain to work together towards a producer price that reflects the recent rises in feed prices.
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