Collaboration Throughout Pork Industry Urged

ALBERTA - The Alberta pork industry will need to work more cooperatively with each other and think more creatively if it is to have a fighting chance against the challenges it faces today and in the future, says the chairman of Alberta Pork, the organization which represents the province’s pork producers.
calendar icon 17 December 2008
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In a presentation at Alberta Pork’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), Herman Simons urged all pork industry participants to buy into the Revitalization Strategy developed by the industry and its partners this year and, in many cases, think beyond it. “We have to come to grips with the idea that good environmental and animal welfare practices are baseline expectations of today’s consumers. The next step is differentiating ourselves in a market built on those expectations,” he says.

Key to this will be the entire industry’s ability to work together toward a common goal of prosperity. “It is essential to have all creative minds, not just producers but the feed industry, veterinarians, food processors, truckers and others, collaborate as we redefine our future. In the process, we may have to ask ourselves some painful questions. However, the hope is that these efforts will drive a more interdependent industry that will communicate at a level that is quite a bit higher than what we are used to.”

An example of the need for a more connected industry is the complexity involved in branding the Alberta pork industry around a quality platform. “Any attempt to do so would require a certain level of trust at all levels of the value chain because a single decision will start a chain reaction throughout the whole industry,” says Simons. “The question is whether we are in a position to do that or if it is something we need to work on.”

In some ways, the pork industry is in a better competitive position today than it was last year at this time, says Simons. A lower Canadian dollar has improved trade opportunities with the U.S., and lower feed costs and higher pig prices are expected to continue into the foreseeable future. However, positive returns are not expected until mid-2009.

At the same time, the industry still faces several challenges. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) in the US continues to be a threat to trade, the ongoing exit of producers from the industry continues, the processing system is under pressure, and a sense that the provincial government has not delivered on its industry bailout promises has been disillusioning to many producers, says Simons. “On a personal level, many producers are less positive now than they were last year, despite more positive forecasts overall.”

Alberta Pork, at its board meeting on 9 December, 2008, also confirmed no changes to the existing board for next year. Herman Simons of Tees and Ben Woolley of Acme were re-elected as chairman and vice-chairman respectively. Remaining board members include John Wipf of Bassano; John Middel of Rocky Mountain House; Ben Hofer of Two Hills; Dwight Peregrym of Blackfoot; Don Erno of Sexsmith, Alberta/Chase, B.C; and Peter Entz of Botha.

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