Pork eyes hungry market

by 5m Editor
9 February 2007, at 11:00am

NEW ZEALAND - Big opportunities await New Zealand pig farmers who can increase their production, writes Tim Cronshaw.

PAMPERED PIGLETS: New Zealand pigs have a good health status.

Pig farmers will have to increase production if they want to take from overseas producers some of the growing share of pig meat being eaten in New Zealand.

The amount of pork imported to New Zealand has reached unprecedented levels as the consumption of pig meat has risen to a record 20.6kg per person, up 0.5kg from last year.

About 40 per cent of pig meat eaten in New Zealand is imported, because domestic production is unable to keep up with consumer demand.

Less than 5% of home-grown meat is exported, mostly to the Pacific Islands.

The New Zealand Pork Industry Board's chairman, Chris Trengrove, said pork producers have accepted the challenge to ensure New Zealand pork is first on consumers' shopping lists.

To increase production, farmers must have stronger links in the supply chain, and lift pig weights and piglets produced.

"We would love to take back some of that share, although we understand there will always be imported products."

With an integrated industry, New Zealand's market share could be improved, he said. This was starting to happen, with the three main processing companies bringing out New Zealand-branded products.

A domestic-dominated market can be a disadvantage for New Zealand producers, because they have only limited opportunity to sell meat cuts overseas, where there is a shortfall in demand.

Most of the imported meat goes into processed products, such as bacon and ham.

Last year, New Zealand was swamped with Australian product when United States meat entered Australia through a new trade agreement. But there is little Australian meat in New Zealand this year, because it is selling better in Australia and because of the drought.

Trengrove said the up-and-down market made New Zealand producers uncertain whether they could compete with imported product.


5m Editor