Lidl has announced a £500m investment package into the British pork sector, including a new pricing model for suppliers and farmers.

As part of the move, the discounter has moved pork producers to an open-book model - the ‘Lidl Pork Standard’ - that includes cost of production with guaranteed farmer margins.

It’s also launched a pork producer group, which will see it invest in farm initiatives to decrease emissions and fund research into welfare enhancements.

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The National Pig Association (NPA) has welcomed the introduction of these pork contracts and the supermarket's "continued commitment to a sustainable domestic supply of British pork".

The sector has faced numerous issues, including rising costs, a Chinese import ban on EU pork, and butcher shortages, which led to a significant backlog of healthy pigs and financial worries for producers.

Lidl's move includes the new ‘Lidl Pork Standard’, which sees the discounter moving farmers to an open-book producer costing model that includes the on-farm cost of production, will guarantee minimum producer volumes and include a fixed margin for farmers.

The retailer said this change was developed in collaboration with producers through its newly created ‘Lidl Pork Producer Group’.

Through this, Lidl will fund research and development projects aimed at mimicking the natural behaviours of pigs, such as rooting, sniffing and chewing, in turn improving wellbeing.

In a new trial, 3D cameras have been introduced to record the nature and frequency of the animals’ enrichment interactions, with the data being subsequently used to enhance welfare.

Lidl said it would also invest in assessing the carbon footprint of all the farms in its pork producer group and subsequently putting plans in place to reduce these emissions.

The supermarket will be investing over £250,000 in at-risk GB catchments to support river health and water quality, while working to achieve deforestation-free soy sourcing by the end of 2025.

Chief commercial officer at Lidl GB, Richard Bourns, said the latest investment underlined the retailer's commitment to British pig producers.

He said: "Acknowledging the challenges faced by the industry and its farmers in recent years, we recognised the need for intervention and the development of a bespoke solution addressing these challenges.

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"That’s why we’ve been working closely with our suppliers and farmers, including major partners such as Cranswick and Pilgrim’s, to ensure we understand the intricacies of this supply chain and are well positioned to deliver impactful change.

“With our pork market share significantly greater than our broader market share, it highlights the substantial influence we have in this area and we’re embracing our responsibility to drive positive change."

Commenting on the move, chief executive of the NPA, Lizzie Wilson, said: “The NPA welcomes the introduction of Lidl's pork producer contracts and its continued commitment to ensuring a sustainable domestic supply of British pork.”