Pig prices may have tumbled but investment by a Scottish processor is expected to give many producers a much needed boost.
The expansion and upgrade of Quality Pork Limited’s (QPL) facility at Brechin, which is due to be completed and up and running this week, will see Scottish pig producers control their own slaughter facilities for the first time.
The abattoir, purchased from AP Jess in 2014, will process Scottish pigs for sale to UK retail and wholesale customers as well as the growing export market.
Since the loss of Halls of Broxburn in 2013, there has been a huge hole in Scottish processing capacity.
Kevin Gilbert, Aberdeenshire pig farmer and pigs committee chairman for NFU Scotland, said the Brechin plant would go some way to filling this.
“The new plant will double up in size, taking it from an abattoir killing 4,000 pigs a week to about 8,500,” he said.
“It will be great for producers to have an outlet and a high-tech facility like this on their doorstep.
“We are now working to promote the facility to national retailers so they take the product.”
It comes as major pork company Midland Pig Producers (MPP) announced its intention to close two of its farms at Fradley, near Lichfield and Foston, Derbyshire.
Citing the current market downturn, MPP said it was a ‘regrettable’ decision, but ‘aptly illustrates the current market for conscientiously produced British pork when faced with cheap imports from abroad’.
The standard pig price is 115p/kg.
Mr Gilbert added: “Price wise we are having the same problem as those over the border, but three years ago we had exceptionally high prices. The pig price is cyclical.
“The price of cereals and soya has come down and cost of production is around the mid £1.20s mark. The price is loss making right now and it is going to be a difficult year, however I don’t think there is any concern for the producers who are left.
“Many grow their own cereals, are mixed farms and are dedicated to keeping going.
“In England there are a lot of standalone pig units so they’ve got nothing else to cushion themselves.”
Mr Gilbert said the casualties in the Scottish market were mainly outdoor producers.
"No indoor producers have stopped," he added.