Pork Industry Response Keith Stewart Article in Foodnews July 27th and July 30th
Keith Stewart has focused on the pork industry in a couple of recent Foodnews articles. A number of points require correction.
Do we as an industry need to deal with the issues of perception around animal welfare? Yes we do. That is why we have introduced a pig welfare audit for commercial farmers, supported by our pork abattoirs and wholesalers. Why has it taken time to get it in place? We know that the system will be heavily scrutinized therefore it must robustly assess pigs welfare. That is why we had it developed by Massey University, why we involved MAF, the SPCA, vets and then had it peer reviewed internationally.
The reality is that takes time and a robust system is what consumers and other stakeholders would expect and that is what we will deliver. We have appointed independent organisation AsureQuality to administer the scheme and to ensure that the auditors are adequately trained and are implementing the audit appropriately.
Working with auditors and pork wholesalers we have an agreed aim of completing our audits of commercial farms by September 30. Once collated, we will release results of where the industry is at, and how it plans to address outstanding issues. We will continue to be open with consumers with what we are doing as an industry, and where we are going.
It’s why we’ve built a website www.pigfarminginnz.co.nz that talks about pig farming and why farmers farm the way they do. It talks about the use of sow stalls and farrowing crates and the important part they play on some farms. It discusses the differences between pigs and sheep and cattle, and why they have different needs when farmed in outdoor situations. It does talk about the choice that consumers have to select products from different systems.
Keith Stewart talks about pork being a commodity item, and the failure to add value as the reason the pork industry is under pressure. The meat of the pig is the most differentiated and value added of any meat available on New Zealand retailers’ shelves. Apart from fresh meat sales, Pork goes into a wide variety of bacon, ham and sausages, and provides the core ingredient for many other processed meat products that continue to grow in popularity.
I took a little tour on-line to see what there was at Woolworths online shopping site. 49 different pre-pack bacon offerings across 7 categories, and 17 prepacked ham offerings and many of them over the $30kg mark – how is that commodity? Then you can add the chorizos, kranskys other shaved meats, pre-cooked roast pork and a bunch of salami’s of which pork is the base. And what about the New Zealand component vs. imported. Keith does recognize that 700,000kgs of pork arrives into NZ every week, at substantially cheaper prices than NZ Product –However the very clear trend of those main brands and retailers is to extend their range to utilise more New Zealand product and very clearly label it as such. Our upcoming 100% NZ Bacon competition attracts nearly 200 entries every year from over 70 butchers and processors from all over NZ. Every year the medal winners report enormous sales growth as consumers flock to their winning bacons, and indulge in the mouth watering bacon experience of a NZ grown bacon.
And what are people doing in the fresh meat area? Freedom Farms, Harmony, and Havoc are mentioned. They are but three of many companies targeting particular consumer groups. There’s also Waitaki Bacon and Ham, Cressy Farm, Free Range Farm, Murrellen, Long Flat Bacon Company Ltd, Mariano's Spanish Goods Ltd, RubyFields Free Range, Soggy Bottom Holdings, Te Rata Family Farm, Esk Valley Pork, Bulls Bacon, and Apple Tree Farms and I’m sure I’ve missed others. All of these brands are differentiating themselves around the providence of their various farming or product characteristics and are available through a variety of retail outlets big or small. Can we do better – of course we can and farmers, through to wholesalers, processors and retailers are continuing to develop new products in to both create and respond to changing consumer preferences. It would be useful to hear from Keith what other opportunities he sees for these businesses above and other individuals in the industry to improve the offer to consumers, I’m sure we’ll be keen to listen.