CANADA - A veterinarian with Davidson Swine Health Services says, despite its growing popularity with consumers, demand for antibiotic free pork is unlikely to overtake that of commodity pork, writes Bruce Cochrane.
"Raised Without Antibiotics, Pork Production" was among the topics discussed last week in Saskatoon as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2015.
Dr. Shawn Davidson, with Davidson Swine Health Services, says we're certainly seeing an increase in demand for antibiotic free pork, with some of the announcements by food service such as Subway which has announced its animal protein products will be antibiotic free within a certain number of years and A&W's promise to provide poultry raised without antibiotics, but when it comes to overall demand cost is a factor.
Dr Shawn Davidson-Davidson Swine Health Services:
We know from many studies that when consumers are surveyed about things like antibiotic free pork, a majority of them will say, yes we want this but then when you get them in the actual store and with the wallet in hand, they'll buy the commodity product because it's cheaper so cost is a factor.
Public perception is a factor.
The information and sometimes misinformation that exists surrounding antimicrobial resistance and the amount of antibiotics that are actually being fed to animals, there's a lot of misconceptions that will drive some consumer opinions.
The internet is a very powerful force and influencing people's opinions for better or for worse.
It's important, as an industry, that we do continue to get the facts out there about what is actually going on but there's certainly always going to be a certain proportion of the consumers that are going to demand and prefer this type of product and I think the percentage of those consumers will continue to grow.
Dr Davidson says it's generally accepted that around $5.00 to $6.00 per pig US is the minimum hard cost of raising pigs without antibiotics, a result of increased feed costs including the use of feed additives, the increased use of vaccinations and things in the barn like having lower stocking densities and better ventilation systems.
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