The traditional full English breakfast is poised to become a luxury item, as hard-pressed pig farmers warn of steep price rises.
Shoppers dealing with tight finances could end up with tightening belts if they opt not to fork out up to 60p more for a packet of eight sausages, 70p more for a standard pack of bacon or £2.50 extra for a pork roasting joint within months.
Mounting costs could force more British pig farmers out of business – meaning a greater reliance on expensive imports, some of which don’t match British welfare levels.
The crisis facing pig farmers comes in the wake of consumers having to shell out more for eggs, again due to the rising cost of feed and the implications of banning cheaper battery chicken farming.
And what could be one of the worst wild mushroom seasons on record means another staple part of a traditional English breakfast costs more than it did a year ago.
A report from the British Pig Executive (BPEX) says shoppers would be better off paying small increases now for bacon, sausages and ham to help keep farmers in business and stave off higher long-term price increases.
It shows how modest retail price rises of as little as 7p on a pack of bacon today could keep pig farmers in business and avoid bigger future hikes.
Consumer research by BPEX shows consumers would be supportive of modest price rises, with nearly two-thirds of people agreeing that it is right for consumers to pay a little more for responsibly produced food, if farmers’ costs have increased due to circumstances outside their control.
Crop production around the world has been significantly affected by drought or storms, driving up the cost of pig feed, which makes up 65 per cent of pig farmers’ costs. Dramatic price increases in the past months mean that pig farmers’ cost of production has rocketed.
Without a price increase, losses for the industry are likely to hit £100 million over the next six months – with many farmers in core production areas like Wiltshire possibly forced out of business.
Estimates from BPEX show that without price increases the domestic pig herd, and herds across Europe, could be cut by 8 per cent, as farmers reduce production – or give up altogether.
An 8 per cent decrease in herds could lead to a price increase of around 50p per kilogram.
When translated into retail prices this would mean an increase of up to £1.40 on a pack of four pork chops, £2.50 on a leg roasting joint, 60p on a pack of sausages, 70p on a pack of bacon or 45p on a pack of sandwich ham.
BPEX’s report “The Impact of Feed Costs on the English Pig Industry” shows how a far more modest increase of 10p now would return pig farmers to break even point.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, along with scores of MPs and MEPs, have pledged their support for the pig farmers’ “Save Our Bacon Campaign”, which has attracted media coverage around the world.
Do you want to know where to find the best full English breakfast in Somerset? Last month visitors to This is Somerset voted for their favourite fry-ups. See the results by clicking on the link below...