Pork industry plans for growth

NEW ZEALAND - Is pork about to become the new chicken? Many New Zealanders eat chicken three or four times a week, but lately they've been having second thoughts.
calendar icon 26 July 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Some of this is due to the rather hysterical fears of campylobacter, but with this has come the realisation that the meat can taste pretty bland. At least, this is what people surveyed by the pork industry are saying.

This is pork's big chance to put itself on the home menu. And the industry is preparing itself – girding its loins, so to speak – to win the hearts, minds and stomachs of the nation.

There's no doubt pork is more popular than it has ever been – consumption is up from around 16 kilograms a head a year in 2001 to more than 20kg – and the perception of it as just fatty roasts and chops is fading fast. It is now seen as versatile, quick and easy to cook and much preferable to imported pork.

This is the bounty of an intensive five-year advertising and education campaign. It centred on a series of ads showing comedian Mike King cooking with a variety of cuts from steaks to stir-fries, mince and meatballs to dumplings and kebabs. Supporting this were many Food in a Minute ads and others promoting TrimPork's Heart Foundation tick and nutritional benefits.

The growing Asian population, with their preference for pork three or four times a week, has also added to the increase in demand.

But while we all may want to eat more pork, the industry isn't producing any more. Many piggeries have been struggling to contain PMWS, a disease that is harmless to humans but can kill up to 10 per cent of young stock, and there's worries that a relaxation of import regulations may let in another set of killer initials, PRRS, the world's worst pig disease that kills up to 70 per cent of piglets before weaning and another 10-15 per cent after.

So far, the Government has turned a deaf ear to pig producers' warnings about PRRS so the industry is putting into place strict measures to prevent it appearing. But it has influence over only 320 commercial producers, leaving as many as another 10,000 small pig owners off the regulatory radar.

Source: Stuff.co.nz
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