NZ Pork Industry Hires New Head Lobbyist

by 5m Editor
23 March 2012, at 1:54am

NEW ZEALAND - The New Zealand Pork Industry Board named Owen Symmans, a former head of the Seafood Industry Council, as its new chief executive, replacing Sam McIvor.

Mr Symmans, currently chief executive of the Seafood Industry Training Organisation, will take up his role at the pork lobby on 23 April.

The pork industry generates economic value of more than $1 billion a year to New Zealand, according to Mr McIvor’s briefing to the incoming parliament after last year’s election. That gives it about 55 per cent of the local market, where it competes with an estimated 700,000 kilograms a week of imported product.

The pork board’s chairman Ian Carter said in announcing Mr Symmans’ appointment today that modern pig farming “requires high levels of technical and practical farming skills, along with the dedication and understanding to compete in a highly aggressive local market.“

The industry has faced increased regulatory demands on animal welfare and agreed to phase out sow stalls by 2015. As of late 2011, just over 50 per cent of sows were free of the gestation stalls, according to Mr McIvor’s report.

Imported pork holds down the price of the meat in New Zealand, meaning it sells at a cheaper price than beef or lamb in supermarkets, while the rival meats have been buoyed by global demand.

“Pork represents a very cost competitive meat for New Zealand consumers, including those New Zealanders most at risk of limited food choice due to poverty,“ Mr McIvor’s briefing says. “The ready supply of imported pig meat has helped the retail price of pork remain strongly competitive over the last 12 months, despite generally increasing food bills.“

Mr McIvor left the board this month to take up a position with Wellington meat company Prestons.