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New Zealand's Pork industry vulnerable

New Zealand agriculture's vulnerability as part of a global market is no more evident than in the pork industry.

Threats to biosecurity, and farm profitability have brought major challenges, leaving Pork producers now losing up to $50 per pig, and farmers are leaving the industry. The main drain on viability has been price rises, led by grain which makes up 70% of production costs.

Survival
And so as a relatively small livestock industry compared to the heavyweights of dairy, sheep and beef how does New Zealand Pork help its farmers survive? Sam McIvor, chief executive of New Zealand Pork has a simple answer - increase demand and in turn prices, and improve efficiencies to use less inputs for each kilogram of pork produced.

Putting this into action is not a simple matter; however, the sector is certainly throwing its weight behind the challenge. Recent figures show pork is now the cheapest meat in New Zealand, but is also the least consumed.

Marketing
New Zealand Pork is now marketing pork's affordability as 'a saviour for the stretched household food budget'. Pork is the most widely eaten meat globally, but New Zealanders don't eat their share with just six to seven kilograms per year. This is less than one sixth of chicken at 37kg, and behind beef at 33kg and sheepmeat at 12-13kg.

McIvor believes supply and demand is probably the greatest driver of price, and New Zealand pork wants to push this up so producers can survive. 'We know there are significant numbers going out of the industry and maybe the figure is around 10% of sow numbers so far,' he says. 'We believe we need to do something innovative to lift consumption.'

100% New Zealand
New labels launched in January this year push local product, featuring 100% New Zealand pork, along with bacon and ham in the processed sector. With a real shift to buy local, consumers are asking more questions about where their food comes from and this message came through in a work New Zealand Pork has done with processors and retail chains.

Related website
• New Zealand Pork

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