The English pig industry has sent an unequivocal message to government -- keep out of decisions about how the pig levy is spent. Almost unanimously, producers want more of their levy of 85 pence per pig to be spent on marketing, to encourage younger consumers to understand and embrace modern ways of cooking and serving pork.
In a poll on the National Pig Association website, more than 90 percent of members who took part agreed the sector's recent Pulled Pork campaign was a good pig levy investment. And over 90 percent said the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) should not dictate whether future Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Pork marketing campaigns get the go-ahead or not.
In the poll:
- 96 percent of respondents said, yes, the first phase of the Pulled Pork campaign was a good way to spend the pig levy
- 95 percent said, yes, they would like to see more of their levy spent on promotional activity like this
- And 97 percent said, no, DEFRA should not be able to dictate how the pig levy is spent.
Levy-payer concern about DEFRA interference in marketing matters was highlighted recently when AHDB Beef and Lamb chairman Stuart Roberts resigned amid fears AHDB levies will be ‘lost to the realms of a remote tax that the industry will have little or no influence over'.
NPA chairman Richard Lister, a Yorkshire pig, sheep and arable farmer, said: “As diets change in our sophisticated marketplace, intelligent and informative marketing to explain the benefits of red meat is absolutely essential if British producers are to grow or even just maintain the domestic customer base. If AHDB cannot achieve this on behalf of levy-payers because of government interference, then it is hard to see what its role will be going forwards.”
Independent research shows phase one of the six-week Pulled Pork campaign in May-June created a 19.2 percent uplift in volume sales of fresh pork shoulder. Phase two of the campaign will run in January-February next year, when one of the goals will be to continue rejuvenating pork's image with younger consumers. Currently GBP3.8 million (US$5.85 million) of the pig levy is spent on AHDB Pork marketing activity, about 40 percent of the sector board's total annual spend.