The industry wants the government to bring about a "level playing field" in areas such as welfare, where higher standards have been introduced in the UK in advance of the rest of the EU, to the financial detriment of home producers. It also wants public sector procurement policies to favour British pork.
While some 45 firms, including retailers, manufacturers and foodservice operators have signed up to a voluntary code of practice on country of origin labelling of pork and pork products, producers complain that far too much overseas product is being specified because it is cheaper.
Receiving the David Black Award for her contributions to the pig industry, Meryl Ward threw down the gauntlet to food minister Jim Paice and retailers.
"We must keep raising the welfare bar in tune with new scientific knowledge," said Ward. "We need to get the criteria of good welfare agreed and recognised across the industry, then we need to make sure the consumer has access to honest and independent information to make informed choices."
Ward added: "We have some of the best welfare standards in the world, which is demonstrated through our assurance schemes which are unique in their level of rigorous inspection."
Paice said that with just 48% self-sufficiency for pig meat in the UK, the sector was under threat. "Clearly that is a matter of great concern," he said, advocating welfare reforms across the EU.