Weekly Overview: Pig Meat Trade: Challenges and Opportunities

17 December 2012, at 11:42pm

ANALYSIS - US pig meat exports, which have developed strongly this year, are facing a challenge from Russia over the use of the growth promoter, ractopamine, which alleges that residues in meat may harm the health of those consuming it. On the other hand, it has been reported that there are great opportunities for pig meat and feed companies exporting to China. The European Parliament has voted to tackle animal welfare during transportation and antimicrobial resistance. In the UK, VION NV has agreed to a management buy-out of its pork operations there.

Pork trade between the US and Russia is under threat as the two countries have clashed over the use of the beta-agonist growth promoter, ractopamine.

Russian authorities are clamping down on US meat products. Now, any imports must be certified by a government veterinary inspector before they can go on the Russian market. If the products are not accompanied by the appropriate certificate, they will only be released onto the market after undergoing and passing laboratory tests.

US trade representative, Ron Kirk, has attacked Russia for breaking the obligations of the World Trade Organization and has called on Russia to restore market access.

Market opportunities for pig meat are growing in China. The development of pork production and the pig markets in Asia can be directly linked to the growth in size and wealth of the population.

The growth in demand has generated an upsurge in production, resulting in very attractive prices for both pig meat and feed. This growth offers opportunities for companies around the world to work and invest in the developing Asian region.

Speaking at the recent EuroTier exhibition, Dr Mike Varley from the Pig Technology Company said that the major factor holding back pig meat production growth in Asia in recent years has been pig disease.

In the UK, Dutch-based food producer, VION NV, has reached an agreement for a management buy-out of its UK pork operations, securing around 4,000 jobs.

The deal, led by Seamus Carr, managing director of the company's Pork Business Unit, is backed by UK private equity firm, Endless.

The announcement follows the strategic decision VION announced last month that it was selling its UK food operations, employing in total 13,000 people at 38 sites, to focus on its core food activities in the Netherlands and Germany and its global ingredients business.

In the EU, the European Parliament has pushed through measures to tighten up enforcement controls for the welfare of animals in transport.

The Parliament has also called for immediate action to tackle antimicrobial resistance in bacteria pathogenic to people and/or animals.

Urgent action must be taken to fight bacteria resistant to antibiotics by developing new drugs, using existing ones more carefully and improving animal husbandry, according to the Parliament's resolution. To slow the growth of antimicrobial drug resistance, MEPs called for prudent-use guidelines to reduce non-essential exposure in human and veterinary medicine, agriculture and aquaculture.

Organisers of the next European Symposium on Porcine Health Management (ESPHM 2013) are reminding scientists working in the field of pig health that the deadline to submit abstracts for the meeting is 20 December 2012. For more information, click here.

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