As we’ve just changed both abattoir and butcher I had to revise our pork costings.
The new costings are far from good when I look at them from a customer perspective.
The cost of taking a single pig from 10 weeks through to slaughter and butchering at 28 weeks works out at:
- Cost of weaner @ 10 weeks: £60.50
- Cost of feed from 10-28 weeks, 200kg used: £55.60
- Cost of small bale straw from 10-28 weeks, nine used: £36.00
- Contribution to other costs (fencing, troughs, tools, electricity, vet, etc): £25
- Transport to slaughter: £35
- Slaughter, meat inspection charge & statutory levy, butchering & packaging, delivery of pork, including VAT: £83.70
- Total: £295.80
I haven’t included labour costs and margin, but the new cost is already well past the £250 we were receiving for a butchered porker last year. (Oh, and the quoted cost of weaner is last year’s. This year’s cost is likely to pass £65.)
We sell the pigs as butchered and boxed halves, with an average of 22.5kg in a box or a total of 45kg of useable pork per pig.
The new cost per butchered pig comes in at £6.57 per kilogram. It seems reasonable to me, especially with the cost of many inputs rising steeply and given that our small scale means we have inherent inefficiencies compared with massive industrial farms.
However, once I translate the cost into a price per kilogram—which should be at least £7.10 with labour and margin—I know it’s reached a level that many potential customers will see as unreasonable. If potential customers though a boxed half pig was expensive last year at £125, what will they say if its going to cost £159.73 this year?
After all, they’ll say, supermarkets do shoulder joints for £2.00-4.00 per kilogram, leg joints for £5.50-6.00 per kilogram and chops for £5.00-6.50 per kilogram. Never mind the origins of that pork, the production methods or the poor return to the farmers who produced it.
The simple fact of the matter is that given a choice between locally produced pork from small, free-range, traditional breed herds and lowest common denominator pork from industrial farms, the majority of customers will always buy whichever is cheapest.
We’d managed to find a niche by catering for customers who wanted the local product and were prepared to pay more than the price of cheap supermarket pork but less than the price of premium, free-range, organic supermarket pork.
However, our pork price has to reflect input costs and that means our meat is moving past the price of premium supermarket pork.
Given that we’ve been selling weaners for less than the cost of production for six months and making up the difference from pork sales, where does that leave us?