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News 1149 views last update:Feb 25, 2016

Australia: Quality standards streamlined for pig producers

Australian pork producers who supply Coles have welcomed news they will save time and administration by only having to comply with one set of quality assurance standards.

Until now, producers supplying Coles have met the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program (APIQ) requirements plus Coles' own sow-stall free certification. The Coles certification was free, but involved additional paperwork.

Following eight months of consultation between Coles, Australian Pork Limited (APL) and Coles' suppliers, a supplementary set of customer specifications for producers supplying pork to Coles have been agreed as an extra Module of the APIQ standards. Producers will transition to the new program over the next 12 months.

Victorian pork producer Ian Peace, who is director of Pigco and a member of the farmer steering committee which oversaw the change, welcomed the development of a sow stall free module.

"As producers we gained a greater insight into how our customers view fresh pork and ultimately this is good for our business," Peace said.

"The incorporation of the standards into the APIQ  module is a great way for our business to increase transparency and understanding with consumers and potential consumers of pork."

Other pork producers involved in the APIQ  module have also welcomed the change, stating they were pleased to be involved with Coles in firstly developing, then integrating, the enhanced Coles specifications into the APIQ  program. Producers have indicated it as win-win all round as the farms avoided costly additional audits by adding to current external audits. The process also allowed producers to better integrate the Coles standards into their APIQ  welfare assurance processes that occurs every day with their animals, Andrew Spencer, CEO of APL said, "Any on-going reduction in duplication for producers, whether of cost or time or both, is exactly the kind of initiative we like. It's great that the APIQ  quality assurance program can remain consistent nationally and be flexible enough to incorporate the needs of a significant group of Australian producers."

Coles has stocked only sow-stall free Coles Brand fresh pork, ham and bacon products to the Coles standard for both domestic and imported pork since January 2013. Coles chief operating officer, John Durkan said the latest move to streamline certification requirements for pork producers was a sensible step following the move to sow-stall free pork production. "Our customers told us that they want quality food which is responsibly sourced and great value. We have listened carefully to this message and worked tirelessly with our suppliers over the last two years to make the investments and changes required to move to sow-stall free production for all Coles Brand fresh pork, ham and bacon," Durkan said.

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