PigSustain: assessing the resilience of the UK pig industry

In an interview with The Pig Site, Dr Mary Friel, Leeds University, discusses how the PigSustain initiative is assessing the resilience of the UK pig industry to ensure it is prepared for the future.
calendar icon 12 February 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

With the global human population to expected to rise by over 33% to 9.6 billion by 2050, expanding the global capacity to feed people is a growing concern. Pork meat and pork products are a staple part of many people's diets which means that demand for it is likely to increase along with the increasing population.

With this comes the need to intensify pig production systems to maximise output, but what risks come with intensifying an operation that is already providing environmental concerns and is threatened by climate change, disease and an ever-shrinking pool of natural resources?

With 'no continuous, objective and quantified understanding' of the sustainability and resilience of the UK pig herd, there is no reliable prediction of how the pig industry, and its people, will be impacted by future threats.

PigSustain is an initiative established by Lisa Collins, Professor of Animal Sciences and now principal investigator on the project. The PigSustain project aims to use a multi-disciplinary, integrated systems approach to model and assess the resilience of the UK pig industry historically, currently and in the future, with the intention of working with the industry to produce contingency plans for mitigating weaknesses in the system.

To do this, a number of universities and pig industry bodies are coming together to analyse the economic, environmental, social, and health and welfare aspects of the UK pig industry. The project team consists of:

  • Professor Lisa Collins (PI, University of Leeds);
  • Dr Helen Gray (University of Leeds);
  • Dr Mary Friel (University of Leeds);
  • Professor Richard Bennet (University of Reading);
  • Dr Simone Pfuderer (University of Reading);
  • Professor Mark Birkin (University of Leeds);
  • Dr Nik Lomax (University of Leeds);
  • Dr Phil Edwards (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine);
  • Dr Shakoor Hajat (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine);
  • Dr Chloe Perkins (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
  • Dr Hyunju Lee (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
  • Professor Nigel Allison (University of Lincoln);
  • Dr Xujiong Ye (University of Lincoln);
  • Dr Lei Zhang (University of Lincoln);
  • Dr Susanna Williamson (Animal Plant and Health Agency/APHA)
  • Dr Richard Irvine (APHA);
  • Dr Richard P Smith (APHA);
  • Dr Sara Robertson (APHA).

PigSustain is funded through the Global Food Security's 'Resilience of the UK Food System Programme', with support from BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and the Scottish Government.

To learn more, watch the short video above, or click here

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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