GLOBAL - Market experts shared their thoughts about the prospects for the pig sector in the UK, EU and Asia at a conference in London last week. Mexico, meanwhile, has announced some measures to boost both exports and domestic consumption of pig meat, and visitors to a recent trade show in Atlanta gained some new insights into the eating quality of pork.
It's been down, down, down for pig prices in the UK and European Union over the last months, according to a market specialist manager speaking at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Outlook Conference in London last week.
Stephen Howarth of the AHDB/BPEX said that cause of the falling prices has been supply ahead for demand, with the reductions even more extreme in the European Union than in the UK.
Rising production in the US as the recovery from PED begins, as well as greater output from Canada and the Russian import ban have exacerbated the problem and, with UK supply forecast to remain strong for the year ahead, demand will need to strengthen in order for prices to firm.
Risks to the future prospects of the sector identified by Mr Howarth are disease, retailer commitment to local sourcing, feed prices and exchange rates.
Also at the Outlook conference, delegates heard that in future, consumers are expected to have a renewed focus on ethical issues but this will not be too much at the expense of price.
Richard Nicholls from the market analysts, Future Foundation, said that consumers will seek greater transparency when shopping for meat and dairy products. Changing tastes will see consumers across the globe looking for new experiences in their purchases; they will buy meat and dairy products for special and unusual occasions.
As for the Asian market, between 2014 and 2020, gross domestic product is forecast to grow at 4.9 per cent year on year, according to Nick Miles of the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD).
However, the grocery market in Asia is expected to see an 8.5 per cent compound annual growth rate, he said. This compares to between two and four per cent for the EU.
Mr Miles said that Asia has now overtaken the US in terms of economic output and the grocery market is expected to benefit further from this growth. Asia's growing middle class is becoming a major target for meat and dairy exporters, he added.
Mexico is number 16 in the global rankings of pig meat production. The sanitary authority has recently announced the country is free of Aujeszky's disease, which is expected to boost pork exports in future. In order to boost pork consumption, which currently stands at 16kg per person and year, the Mexican producers' confederation, CPM, has planned several events during the year so consumers can taste pork from different regions of the country.
Pork quality is affected by what happens to the animals on the farm, during transport and in the plant and that affects the eating experience. Attendees at the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta had the opportunity to get a taste of the three-day Pork 101 programme offered through US universities.