Holistic Approach Improves Meat Sustainability

UK - Sustainability is a real buzz word at the moment and is an especially high priority for the pig industry. ABN looks at what’s already being done, and how as a business, they can ensure that sustainability targets are met.
calendar icon 30 June 2016
clock icon 3 minute read

Dr Steven Jagger, ABN pig nutritionist, recently spoke on the topic of sustainable pig meat production at the British Society of Animal Science (BSAS) conference this year, and stressed the importance of taking a holistic approach to improve sustainability.

‘The development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,’ has been a general definition of sustainability in the past. However, Dr Jagger explains that ‘responsible food production’ is a more realistic interpretation of the meaning of sustainability.

“Now more than ever, customers and shareholders expect companies to act sustainably, especially those involved in the food chain. It’s essential for companies to meet these consumer needs, and therefore we need to know how to do this.”

Dr Jagger spoke at the conference about taking a holistic approach to pig meat production in order to achieve sustainability within the food supply chain.

“A holistic approach aims to connect four different goals - product affordability, quality, responsibility and safety - into product development and food production. We must ensure that we deliver on each of these aspects to achieve a sustainable future.

“Sustainability means affordability. Products must be affordable for the consumer. We are aware British pork producers have to be competitive so we need to consider how we can maximise efficiency to produce a cost effective end product.

“For example, looking at the efficiency of nutrient utilisation and how animals respond can help us to understand how to formulate feeds for high performance at a minimal cost.

“This can be influenced by genotype, general health and growth stage of animals. The more accurately the nutrients are balanced to compliment these factors, the more sustainable the system will be.”

Quality is another factor of sustainability that needs to be considered. “A good eating experience means customers are more likely to want to eat the product again,” says Dr Jagger.

“By looking at dietary components, such as vitamin D, which can affect meat tenderness, we can ensure customers continue to have an enjoyable eating experience which contributes to achieving long-term sustainability of pig production.

Current, on-going research is looking into how pigs can be fed as individuals, with nutrition tailored to each animal for precise feeding that will help increase efficiency and sustainability.

“We may not be far off from precision feeding becoming a reality within the industry, but it will still be vital that all four aspects of the holistic approach to pig meat production are factored in to ensure maximum sustainability within the supply chain,” says Dr Jagger.

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