Optimism about the future was strong among pig and poultry producers and industry representatives at the 2012 British Pig and Poultry Fair in Warwickshire on May 15 and 16, following a rise in pig prices and new opportunities ahead to develop businesses. But British Pig Executive director Mick Sloyan said that there are still challenges ahead, including rising feed prices and international exchange rates, as well as energy concerns.

In addition, Sloyan called on UK producers to focus on improving herd health to help improve performance. This includes paying close attention to cleaning and disinfecting buildings, as well as combating diseases and improving food safety. “We need to bring all these strands together in one health program to ensure we can get the best out of our pigs,” he said.

According to Sloyan, BPEX is looking to trade with countries outside the EU, where he said there are significant opportunities to sell a variety of pig meat cuts at good prices. This includes China, where UK agriculture minister Jim Paice and BPEX Chairman Stewart Houston are currently on a tour to promote the sale of British pig meat.

The impending EU ban on sow stalls was also a topic at the fair — production across the EU is expected to drop by some 10 percent, said Sloyan, after the ban goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, because while all British producers have already complied with the legislation, a significant number of producers in other EU countries still have to adapt their systems to meet the new rules. BPEX will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure that the rules are implemented fairly and is already discussing potential challenges with other producer organizations in other EU member-states, including Denmark, Holland, Germany, Spain, France and Italy, as well as the European Commission.