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Pork & Processing

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Ag organisation rings alarm bells for Belgian pig industry

It is not high feed prices, it's the Belgian pork processing and distributing industry that keep Belgium's pig farmers in a permanent crisis. This was a recent message by a Hendrik Vandamme, Belgian agricultural organisation ABS.

The situation for the Belgian pig industry continues to worsen, Vandamme told the ABS journal Drietandmagazine. “The meat processing and distributing industry increasingly abuse their purchasing power – the Flemish farmers are the ones who feel it.”

About five years, the Flemish pig industry has been in a crisis. Vandamme said: “Relatively new pig farms that have invested in environment and animal welfare just do not manage to pay off their debts. And pig farms that have been existing for a while, find out their savings are gone – and their farms have lost their value if they want to sell it.”

High feed prices are usually blamed. Vandamme thinks otherwise. “Meat prices do not follow this trend, despite a higher price in comparison to previous years.” The market situation in theory is good with a longer-term decline in pig production expected and growing numbers of pork exports from Europe.

Price improvements, however, do not occur, Vandamme said. “Virtually all primary producers agree that meat processing and distributing industries increasingly abuse their purchasing power. Every week we see retailers advertise with pork that has been degraded to a cheap bait, to attract consumers. A heavy battle for consumers is being fought, heavier than ever, and they do not care who suffers as a consequence.”

Vandamme stated: “One thing is sure, should consumers want safe quality food in the future, then a serious price has to be paid. In case the authorities would like to guarantee employment in the industry – then a price has to be paid.”

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