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Harper Forum: BPEX Chief Executive Mick Sloyan

Posted 14 October 2011

By Rosa Malseed, Harper Forum reporter. 

The guest speaker at last night’s Harper Forum was Mick Sloyan, chief executive of BPEX, the representative for pig levy payers in England and a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.  

Mr Sloyan opened the forum by giving us an insight to his background - he studied Agriculture and Economics at Newcastle - and the history of BPEX where he has been working for the last 34 years. 

He explained how BPEX works and the current production levels of the pig industry in the England:

  • 26,000 registered pig premises
  • 10,000 pig farms (1600 farm assured)
  • 35 companies account for 50% of the breeding herd
  • 173 abattoirs for pigs
  • Tulip and Vion account for 60% of slaughtered pigs

Mr Sloyan put forward the current market for the English pig industry:

  • Valued at £9 billion a year – the largest meat sector in the UK 
  • The UK is 50% self-sufficient, which has dropped from 80% 10 years ago
  • 80% of sales through supermarkets

The main subject of the Forum was the sustainability of the pig industry, which is facing many challenges. In 1997 the UK held 800,000 sows, which dropped considerably to 450,000 in 2007, however the UK pork price still remains higher than the EU’s. Mr Sloyan said the UK pig industry has to react well to the market as there are no subsidies and it has to be competitive with imports.

Mr Sloyan also discussed different approaches to sustainability and what sustainability could mean:

  1. Zero carbon
  2. Zero waste
  3. Sustainable transport
  4. Sustainable material
  5. Local sustainable food
  6. Sustainable water
  7. Land use and wildlife
  8. Culture and heritage
  9. Equity and local economy
  10. Health and happiness

The BPEX vision, he added, was: “An English pig production and processing sector that is resilient, sustainable and comprises internationally competitive supply chain that retains its business…Help produce and process to be more efficient and maximise the value they get”. 

Tony Evans from The Andersons Centre will be visiting the Forum next week to discuss “Entering the farming industry without a family farm to go back to.”

Harper Forum is a society run by and for students, featuring talks and debates by experts from the rural sector. 

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