As four out of five pig producers are set to go bust, they are asking for a fair price from Tesco.

The National Pig Association (NPA) has told the supermarket giant that it will lose its British pork supply unless it pays a fair price.

Thanks to record pig feed prices, costs of pork production have soared.

It currently costs an estimated 203-216p per kg to produce a pig but average pig prices remain below 170p/kg.

Many producers are losing tens of thousands pounds each week.

In an open letter to Tesco's chief executive Ken Murphy, NPA chairman Rob Mutimer stresses that Tesco, given its scale, is uniquely positioned to act to prevent the ‘destruction of the UK pig sector’.

The Co-op, M&S, ALDI, ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are now paying more for British pork through their dedicated supply chains.

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Waitrose has announced a support package for its British pork farmers worth up to £16million to cover the full cost of rearing and producing pigs – including labour, feed, and fuel.

Sainsbury's has offered a £2.8million investment for its pork producers, giving them the opportunity to align all pigs supplied to Sainsbury’s, including those not currently part of the model, to a fixed price for the 12-week period from 13/03/22 – 05/06/22.

But Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, which has just announced a trebling of profits to more than £2billion, is yet to respond to the crisis hurting its pig suppliers.

NPA survey data suggests there are still 100,000 pigs stuck on farms that should have gone to slaughter and farmers are losing in excess of £50 per pig due to the gap between their cost of production and the price the supply chain is paying for pork.

The pig industry has already lost an estimated 10 per cent of the breeding herd as producers have left the industry or cut down on production.

Polling of British pig farmers by NPA shows that 80 per cent will not be able to survive the next 12 months unless the gap between the cost of production and pig prices is significantly reduced.

“By 2023 British pork will be in such short supply that most retailers will no longer be able to source it," writes Mr Mutimer.

He stresses that Tesco is in a unique position to help because of its UK market share and volume of pork sales.

“Unless action is taken now and a fair price is paid, there will not be a domestic pig industry left to service the demands of your shoppers and we know how much they value fresh British produce," the letter continues.

“A relatively modest investment by Tesco will not only prevent the destruction of the sector, but it will mean that British pork will still be available at a price affordable to your customers.

"Paying a little more today is likely to save you money in the long term.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time and each week that passes puts pig farmers further into the red.

"Tesco’s famous mantra is ‘Every Little Helps’ – well, pig farmers need a lot of help and if Tesco doesn’t step up to the plate, it is going to struggle to source British pork in the future."

A spokesperson for Tesco said: "We fully recognise the seriousness of the situation UK pig farmers are facing and have been working closely with our suppliers to understand what more we can do to support the sector.

"Through the buying models we already have in place, our suppliers have increased payments to farmers by £3.4million since March 2022.

"However, we would like to do more and are actively working with our suppliers on a further enhanced payment plan to support farmers in the short term."