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WPC - Pig Industry Facing International Challenges

by 5m Editor
7 October 2011, at 8:04am

GERMANY - The pig meat industry around the world is facing formidable challenges, writes ThePigSite editor-in-chief Chris Harris at the World Pork Conference.

Speaking at the opening of the conference in Bonn, Germany, the president of the International Meat Secretariat, Arturo Llavallol, said that there were three major issues facing pig meat producers and processors - the global economic downturn, the failure of the World Trade Organisation to reach an international trade agreement and sustainability of production.

"The challenges facing the pork industry internationally are formidable," Mr Llavallol said.

He said the economic crisis has hit production and affected grain prices and the failure of the WHO Doha round to reach an agreement has seen bilateral agreements between countries increase, but the industry is being frustrated by a rising number of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.

Concerns over rising feeding costs to the industry were echoed by the President of the German Meat Association, Paul Brand and the German Parliamentary Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Peter Bleser.

"The pork industry is facing huge challenges," said Mr Brand.

"Pork is enjoying more and more popularity, but we are seeing rising feeding costs and also not just agricultural factors affecting het industry but also political restrictions."

He said the industry has to meet the challenges of changing public opinion about production methods at the same time meeting rising consumption patterns.

"The industry has an ethical and moral obligation in the production of meat," he said.

He said the industry needs to face up to the issues of sustainability together with challenges of diseases and food safety.

"We need uniform standards for the prevention of the spread of disease and to meet issues of food safety," Mr Brand said.

Mr Bleser said that the pig meat industry in Germany is enjoying more and more success and was worth €5.6 billion with a domestic consumption of 54kg per head.

Slaughter figures in the country are rising - up from 43 million head in 2000 to 58 million in 2010, an increase of 35 per cent in a decade.

"It is a highly efficient industry, but pig producers are facing rising costs in energy, feed and production," he said.

And he added that many producers now want to convert their production systems to group systems to meet more welfare friendly practices.

He said the industry in Germany is also facing up to food and feed safety through quality assurance schemes and it is addressing concerns over piglet castration and tail docking, which have been receiving media attention in the country.

He said that Germany is looking to introduce a charter for agriculture that will look at the whole food chain and involve consumer concerns.