Celebrities sign giant sausage
Celebrities including TV personality Christine Hamilton, pop singer Liz McClarnon and sports presenter Sharron Davies signed a giant sausage outside Downing Street as part of a campaign to help pig farmers secure a fair deal from supermarkets and processors.
UK farmers are calling for a higher price for their livestock to help them cope with huge losses from a dramatic rise in the price of wheat and animal feed costs over the past six months.
The British Pig Executive says many farmers will go out of business or be forced to cut production if they do not get a higher price soon, and claims supermarkets and processors are continuing to make "huge profits" by importing increasing amounts of lower welfare pork.
A report released by the industry estimates that supermarkets make £16 million in profit each week from pork products while processors make around £8 million, with farmers losing £3 million per week, or about £20 on every pig sold.
An estimated 450 farmers descended on Whitehall in central London for the protest, and Gloucestershire farmer James Hart said: "We want consumers to ask for British. They should not have to pay more for it because retailers make a massive margin on it. All the retailers need to do is trim their margins slightly - we're talking one or two pence a packet of bacon."
MP Richard Bacon said: "Pig farming makes a valuable contribution to rural economies up and down the UK, including in my own constituency. Supermarkets are not currently fulfilling previous commitments to stock higher levels of British pork and I hope this is something we can change."
But the British Retail Consortium said retailers were "already doing what they need to" to promote British meat and support UK farmers.
BRC food director Andrew Opie said: "Retailers know some consumers prefer to buy British. They're already doing what they need to to look after their supply chain and secure a sustainable UK pig industry so they can sell the products people want to buy.
"Supermarkets do not pay farmers directly for their pork. The direct relationship is between farmers and processors. Blaming retailers ignores the importance of the buying decisions made by manufacturers and caterers. The Government should also be questioned about its own procurement policies.
"Keeping shop prices down is the right thing to do in the current financial climate. Making pork products more expensive will just cause customers to buy less, the opposite of what farmers want."