A WORLD shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable, the National Pig Association (NPA) has said. But it adds that British supermarkets can protect domestic consumers from shortages and steep price rises if they pay their lossmaking pig farmers a fair price, to help them remain in production.

New data shows the European Union pig herd is declining at a significant rate, a trend mirrored around the world. Pig farmers have been plunged into loss by high feed costs caused by the global failure of maize and soya harvests.

All the main European pigproducing countries are reporting shrinking sow herds.

Falling numbers in the 12 months to June 2012 were reported recently by Denmark (-2.3%), Germany (-1.3%), Ireland (-6.6%), Spain (-2.8%), France (-3.2%), Italy (-13%), Hungary (-5%), the Netherlands (-3.6%), Austria (-2.8%), Poland (-9.6%) and Sweden (-7.2%).

NPA chairman Richard Longthorp said: “British supermarkets know they have to raise the price they pay Britain’s pig farmers or risk empty spaces on their shelves next year, but competition is so fierce at present and each is waiting for the other to move first.”

In its Save Our Bacon campaign, the NPA is asking shoppers to make a point of selecting pork and bacon with the British independent Red Tractor logo, as an increase in demand for British products now may help persuade supermarkets to act before it is too late.

Sainsbury’s has increased the price it pays to a few of its farmer suppliers and the NPA has welcomed the gesture. But similar moves are overdue, the NPA believes.

The British Pig Executive’s Mick Sloyan warned a private meeting of British and mainland Europe retailers at a Brussels summit yesterday that a fall of only two per cent in slaughterings next year will cause prices to rise by ten per cent.

The NPA believes slaughterings could fall by as much as ten per cent in the second half of next year, which indicates a doubling of the price of European pork and pork products.

Mr Sloyan said: “If supermarkets act now, they can prevent this happening.”