Co-op invests £19m to strengthen support for pig farmers

The Co-op has called on other leading supermarkets to go the whole ‘hog’ and support the UK pig farming sector by shifting their sourcing policies to British produced pork – around 60 percent of the pork consumed in the UK is imported*.

A wave of retailers have moved to pledge support for struggling pig farmers with additional payments – including Co-op which has pledged £19M - but the ethical retailer has said “it’s too little but not too late to go further.”

Co-op has a market share of six percent, but its support outstrips any of the big four retailers combined**- who have a combined market share of almost 70 percent.

The Co-op removed imported bacon from its stores five years ago to move to 100 percent British pork, from chops to bacon and ham.

Matt Hood, Co-Managing Director, Co-op Food, said: “Some of the support for the sector is too little but it’s not too late for supermarkets to do their bit to help more British farmers. Switching to UK produced pork is the strongest commitment retailers can give to UK farmers at a time when the sector is experiencing unprecedented spiralling costs.

“Pig farmers have been facing historically high feed costs even before Christmas, which has now been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. As a result, many UK farmers are suffering significant losses, and some tragically have been forced to close their farms.

“Co-op is a longstanding and leading supporter of British farming and our new pricing model will see us go even further. We know that this is an incredibly challenging time for UK pig farmers, and that we have an important part to play in supporting the industry. We will continue to do what we can to help all of our farming communities as part of our wider vision of working together to create a fairer world for all.”

Rob Mutimer, National Pig Association Chairman, said: “The Co-op has long been a loyal supporter of British pig producers and we very much welcome this support, which will help its pork suppliers cover the record costs of production they currently face.

“Most of the big retailers have now acted in some way to inject more money into the supply chain. 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.”