MARCH 20, 2009: Pig farmers, meat processors, retailers, and the government have agreed to work on areas of common concern for the benefit of consumers and the industry itself.

The 17 members of the new Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force, set up to identify the biggest challenges faced by the industry and suggest solutions, have met for the first time. National Pig Association chairman, Stewart Houston, and general manager, Barney Kay, were among those assembled. The group is working to improve the resilience of the supply chain by investigating how a standardised code of practice for clearer labelling could be introduced, improving pig herd health, examining how to increase the amount of produce reared to higher British welfare standards bought through public sector procurement and addressing regulatory burdens. The NPA’s Stewart Houston said: “The NPA welcomes this opportunity to get the key players in the pig supply chain together to address some long standing issues which get in the way of improving the competitiveness of the English pig industry. “We try to be a “can do” industry but there are issues we can’t deal with on our own, so this group is charged with finding solutions to strategic issues ranging from clear and honest labeling to a co-operative and integrated supply chain.” Defra farms minister Jane Kennedy said: “It’s fitting the task force should meet for the first time during Bacon Connoisseurs’ Week. I’m extremely encouraged by the fact that all sections of the supply chain – from producers to retailers – want to get round the table and see what improvements can be made. “I want the group to improve things for consumers and the supply chain by delivering on issues like clearer labelling, better pig health, and greater public sector procurement of higher welfare products. The industry needs action and results.” The task force will meet for 12 months when its progress will be reviewed. Day-to-day work will be carried out in sub-groups chaired by task force members. More information here.

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