A Business that Gets Bigger as the Work Gets Smaller

Researcher Vincent Legendre is working for the French pig institute IFIP to map the flow of pig meat from abattoir to retail customer, writes Peter Crosskey for ThePigSite.
calendar icon 18 June 2009
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His work was presented to the two-day conference Journées de la Recherche Porcine in Paris earlier this year.

The process is an essential first step in optimising the downstream processing of pig meat, since the workings of the inter-related circuits for each of the primals (loin, ham, belly and shoulder) can be quite opaque at times.

The problem arises from trying to track widely differing cuts that are subject to different degrees of transformation.

At the outset, Mr Legendre establishes a baseline conversion factor from carcase to primal of 0.86, based on a class E charcuterie half carcass weighing 44.6kg.

The study acknowledges that the trade in pig meat is pan-European, so while trade flows are tracked up to the French border, the study does not attempt to delve into other national industry classifications or trade circuits.

The primary players that Mr Legendre identifies are: abattoirs with cutting halls; specialist cutting and boning businesses; fresh meat wholesalers; industrial scale processors and manufacturers; wholesalers of finished products; craft butchers and charcutiers; multiple retailers; cash and carry operators and food service.

Multiple retailers directly control just one per cent of French cutting and boning, the most visible being Intermarché. In manufacturing, this proportion rises to 12 per cent, double the volumes handled by charcutiers and three times the volumes processed directly by food-service operators.

At retail level, Mr Legendre found, multiple retailers handle 69 per cent of the pig meat tonnage sold in France, 12 per cent is sold through charcutiers and 19 per cent in food service.

Mr Legendre flags up the fact that it was not possible to track offals, an important throughput for certain areas of charcuterie.

For an online summary of Vincent Legendre's paper Cartographie des flux de viandes de porc de la sortie des abattoirs a la mise a disposition aupres du conommateur final, click here.

Questionnaire Identifies Salmonella Issues

Researchers at the French pig institute, IFIP, have been working to identify and prioritise farm practices that contribute to reducing the incidence of salmonella.

Reporting back to this year's two-day research conference, Journées de la Recherche porcine earlier this year, a team headed by Isabelle Corrégé compiled a questionnaire which they took to 208 breeder-finishers and 109 finisher units.

Questions were framed as unambiguously as possible, Dr Corrégé reports, although she acknowledges that there was no opportunity to include observations on the levels of wear sustained on surfaces subject to animal contact.

Earlier work carried out published by Dr Corrégé in 2003 attests to the importance of this as a factor in harbouring salmonella populations. Integrated slotted flooring was present in 83 per cent of holdings and accounted for four fifths of the floors used on these sites. Since straw was used at only one per cent of the sample holdings, there were insufficient grounds to assess its impact on seroprevalence.

In breeder-finisher units, Dr Corrégé identified liquid feed for gestating sows and drinking nipples for weaned animals as two significant contributions to controlling salmonella.

There were fewer patterns to emerge from the finishing units: the number of multipliers supplying the farm and the number of antibiotic treatments given during fattening.

The study found that animals held awaiting collection for slaughter excreted higher levels of salmonella in response to increased levels of stress.

As a result, the holding area was identified as a potential source of reinfection for the whole unit.

The paper Farming conditions and practices linked to Salmonella prevalence in slaughter pigs is published by IFIP as part of its report on the 41st Journées de la Recherche Porcine. An online synopsis of the paper (in French) can be downloaded by clicking here.

June 2009
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