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Pig Industry Feeling Price Pinch

by 5m Editor
12 June 2008, at 10:39am

NEW ZEALAND - Although pork may be the cheapest meat in the market now-a-days, very few people seem to be adding it to their shopping list.

It is looked on as a last resort when you've run out of ideas for chicken, beef and lamb.

According to Stuff, this is a big problem for the pig industry, which is struggling to cope with rocketing feed costs.

The Pork Industry Board's latest analysis shows farmers are losing about $50 a pig because of the high price of grain. They are more casualties of the madness fuelling food price rises worldwide.

While bacon and ham are breakfast, lunch and snack staples, it seems pork's meat cuts can't get on to the dinner plate.

Despite it being one of the two most popular meats in the world (the other is goat), New Zealanders each eat just 6-7 kilograms of fresh pork a year. We eat 37kg of chicken, 33kg of beef and 13kg of lamb and mutton.

However, it's not all bad news for the nation's pig farmers. Low prices present the industry with an opportunity.

They should attract more customers, people who may not have tried pork for a while, and once they discover how tasty and lean it is - the six leanest pork cuts have less fat than chicken - they will become regular buyers.

That's the hope, anyway. The industry intends to help this swing to pork with more advertising - presenting easy recipes based on meat, vegetables and sauce, and taking advantage of research showing that pork's synergistic relationship with vegetables helps in the uptake of their health benefits.

Another initiative is a text message campaign, where shoppers can receive cooking suggestions while in the supermarket.

The biggest emphasis will be on buying local product. More than 40 per cent of pigmeat sold in New Zealand is imported.

Though virtually all fresh pork is locally produced, a campaign to label it - and local ham and bacon - as 100 per cent New Zealand is under way. This has been enthusiastically supported by the industry, with the recent launch of a competition to find the tastiest New Zealand bacon attracting 233 different bacons from 110 processers.

High international grain prices - caused by the mad American and European rush to plant biofuel crops, extreme weather events and growing tastes for a more Western diet in developing countries - are behind the lift in imported pork prices.

However, they have also lifted local grain prices and added mightily to pig farmers' costs.

View the Stuff story by clicking here.

5m Editor