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Feed cost fears raised by farmers

Published on 4 September, 2007, Last updated at 14:06 GMT

UK pig farmers are losing nearly £4m a week because feed costs are spiralling, the National Farmers' Union has said.

With poultry farmers under similar pressure, the NFU warned that unless shops charge more for chicken and pork, supplies could be threatened.


The NFU says pork needs to go up 7p-17p a pack and chicken between 12p-15p a kilo to safeguard production.

Retailers say pricing has to be balanced between appealing to customers and benefiting farmers.

Last month, consumers were warned that meat prices could rise because wheat was increasing in cost, as well as the summer floods and foot-and-mouth disease.

The British Retail Consortium said the retail industry was aware of the problems faced by pig and poultry farmers.

But Andrew Opie, the BRC's director of food and consumer policy, said: "It is a balancing act between what [supermarkets] can afford to pass back to the farmers recognising the pressure they're on.

"But also recognising that consumers in the UK are also under huge pressure as we've" seen lots of other costs go up that all consumers face in their daily lives."

'Breaking point'

The British Pig Executive said pig farmers are currently paid £1.10 per kilo for pigs that cost £1.44 per kilo to produce.

"The price rises farmers need would mean only a modest increase of a few pence for consumers. [Price rises] would move the industry back from breaking point," said chairman Stewart Houston.

Previous feed increases have been countered by increased prices to producers, NFU poultry board chairman Charles Bourns said.

"The problem this time round is, with some supermarkets engaged in a price war at the expense of farmers, there are real concerns the natural market rise expected at the farm gate is just not going to happen."

NFU president Peter Kendall said: "Soaring feed costs are a global phenomenon, as wheat is traded on the world market, so importing chicken and pork from abroad is not the answer.

"The era of cheap food is coming, and must come, to an end."


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