Study Finds Pig Value Chain in Viet Nam Fair

VIET NAM - A new study concludes that Vietnamese pig value chains are dynamic, competitive and economically efficient.
calendar icon 6 February 2015
clock icon 5 minute read

Recently, Jo Cadilhon, Senior Agricultural Economist, Policy, Trade and Value Chains Programme at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) travelled to Viet Nam to provide methodological support on how to calculate production costs, margins and profits in value chains as part of the REVALTER project on future prospects for livestock in Viet Nam.

ILRI has partnered with other French and Vietnamese research organisations in this project funded by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). REVALTER is also mapped to the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Programme, the programme contributes to some of the time of the ILRI researchers involved.

So for both the cases studied, there was no sign that unorganised producers are being exploited by rapacious traders. Rather, the dynamic and very competitive market for pork probably helps explain the economic efficiency of these two Vietnamese pig value chains, the researchers concluded.

Using a method similar to the one Mr Cadilhon had already used in West Africa two years ago, the team spent two days discussing the accounts tables of producers, traders, processors and retailers in the pig and milk value chains of Viet Nam.

The objective was to come up with numbers for costs, and especially profits, which could be compared between the different actors of a value chain.

It was important to find a common product unit on which to compare the costs and profits of value chain actors, as she explained in her preliminary presentation in the seminar organised to showcase the results.

For example, the farmer’s profit of $1 per kg of live pig should not be compared directly with a profit of $5 per kg of ham sold by the retailer.

There have been many steps to transform the live pig into ham, and costs involved in this value addition for the collector, slaughterer, processor, wholesaler and retailer, which help explain the large difference between farm gate and consumer prices, said Mr Cadilhon. These differences can be particularly wide for livestock products, which usually go through some elaborate processing before reaching the family dinner table, in forms that are very unlike the live animal the products came from.

The preliminary results show that pig value chains studied in the rural north-western mountainous province of Son La are actually quite lean in terms of profits accumulated along the value chain. When calculating all the costs and profits of the value chain actors per kg of final consumer product, the researchers realised that when a butcher-retailer sold one kilo of pork ham on Mai Son city market, she – for this is often a woman’s activity – kept 42 per cent of the final retail price as profit while the farmer who raised the pig had received 29 per cent of that same final retail price.

This can be seen as relatively equitable given that there are only three actors in this value chain (farmer, slaughterer and butcher-retailer) and that it is the butcher who has done most of the work cutting up the pig carcass into different consumer meat cuts, including the ham.

Furthermore, when comparing the total costs and total profits accumulated along this pork value chain, the researchers saw that while farmers bore 10 per cent of all the costs involved in producing a kilo of ham, their profit was 33 per cent of the total profits gained by all three actors in the chain. The retailer’s share of costs (53 per cent) was roughly the same as her share of profits along the chain (48 per cent). It looks like the slaughterhouse is the actor losing out in this chain: it bears 37 per cent of the costs in the chain but only gets 19 per cent of all the profits.

The results reveal that the pig value chain is even leaner in the Southern peri-urban province of Dong Nai where strong consumer demand for pork meat in Ho Chi Minh City is driving a very competitive market for pigs.

Pig farmers in Dong Nai pocket 40 per cent of the total profit gained along the chain whereas collector and city butcher-retailer share out equally the remaining 60 per cent of profits from the sale of a kilo of lean pork thigh meat. Furthermore, the collector and retailer’ profits amount to around 15 per cent of their respective selling price while 27 per cent of the farm-gate price is profit for farmers to pay their family labour and their other living expenses.

The preliminary results of this research activity compare costs and margins of the chain actors per kilo of final consumer product. This common denominator is relevant for a wider audience because we can all relate these figures to the kilo of ham or steak that we find at the butcher’s. Further analysis is needed in order to compare costs and margins along the chain per kilo of pig carcass.

Mr Cadilhon added that this new common denominator will be particularly useful for pig value chain actors to identify the inefficient steps in the value chain in order to take further action to improve it.

This article was first published by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Top image credit: ILRI

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