Pig producer revolt: ‘Make no mistake – there will be more radical protests’

The country’s pig industry stands to lose “tens of millions of euro” over the next year as factory prices diminish and feed costs soar, a leading pig-producer lobby group has claimed.

Throughout the last week three large protests have been held at SuperValu stores – part of the Musgrave Group – in counties: Limerick (Castletroy); Waterford (Kilbarry); and Cork (Charleville).

Speaking to AgriLand, Tom Hogan, the chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Pig Committee, said that the groups are protesting against the supermarket’s selling of imported pork produce.

He also claimed that the average Irish pig farmer is “losing €16-18/pig” at the moment.

“We’re in dire straits. Based on what we are getting for our pig at the moment, alongside the cost of feed, it looks like the industry could lose close to €50 million in 12 months,” Hogan cautioned.

Musgraves claims to be 100% Irish, but the IFA have found a lot of pork stating Holland as the country of origin in its shops.

“The packs of rashers from Daily Basics, Musgraves own brand, vary in that one pack would say ‘produce of Ireland’ and the other would say ‘produce of Holland’.”

The chairman of the Co. Monaghan IFA branch, Frank Brady, added that: “The IFA want a commitment from Musgraves to go 100% Irish on their own brand products – the same as Aldi, Lidl and Tesco currently are.”

He warned that 3,000 sows have been culled in the last six weeks and that, unless there is an “immediate” price rise, “thousands more” will go.

Brady stated that smaller-sized farmers are taking the initial hit.

He also highlighted that pig producers in Germany got a 16c/kg price rise in the last three weeks leaving pig prices at €1.56 in the country.

Ireland, however, is about €17-20/pig behind these prices, according to Brady.

Musgrave response

In response to the debacle, a spokesperson for the Musgrave Group issued the below statement to AgriLand:

100% of SuperValu-branded fresh pork and bacon is sourced in Ireland.

“Additionally, all SuperValu rashers are Irish and Bord Bia certified. Like any other grocery retailer, we also carry other brands of pork and bacon,” the spokesperson stated.

Cost of feed

In addition to frustrations over the sourcing of the pork products, Tom Sherman, chairman of the IFA’s Southern Region Pigs Committee, said cash flow has also become a serious hurdle for producers.

Bills can’t be paid. The price of pork has gone down and price of feed is sky rocketing.

“One has to ask the question: Is someone being subsidised to bring in cheaper meat?”

“SuperValu is an Irish-owned company portraying an image of supporting local Irish industries,” Sherman highlighted.

Make no mistake about it, there will be more radical protests. This is not stopping; IFA are not going away.

Sherman concluded by directing some empathy towards feed merchants who, he says, are being forced to run at “crazy” credit levels.