Expert opinion

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Wanted: insult-proof juicy pork

This is not an attack on the pig breeding companies world-wide, but an opportunity to make a point which has troubled me for at least 20 years.

This is not an attack on the pig breeding companies world-wide, but an opportunity to make a point which has troubled me for at least 20 years.

Over this time the breeding companies have done a fine job for producers who by their own admission are not exploiting sufficiently the full genetic performance which the breeding companies, by their skill, discipline and hard work have put into their lines.

Except in one area - that of eating quality, especially succulence and taste.

Too much Danish, Dutch and British pork is, let's face it, tasteless and has been so for decades. On the shelf it looks wonderful - lean, minimal fat, good colour and packaged well. It is what the consumer thinks he/she wants, yet in the same breath come complaints of "It tastes of nothing these days". Why?

Pork is cooked too fast, at too high a temperature in the home because the housewife wants to settle down in front of telly, or whatever, for the evening. She ruins it.

Pork is cooked too fast and at too high a temperature in restaurants because 'bums on seats' are vital. Three sittings instead of two doesn't increase profit by a third, it doubles it. No wonder the chefs are under pressure to get it out - ruined.

But that is the world we live in. Somehow, surely, the geneticist must apply himself to the problem - which is damaging the sales of pork. Look at Britain which says it is proud of it's pork but is nearly bottom of the European consumption league!

The breeding companies need to start designing pigmeat which, when insulted in this way, will still retain more of it's juiciness and taste.

Two areas they need to address.

More marbling is one. Blending the superior eating qualities of the slower-growing breeds with the performance of the 'racehorse' lines they are so good at selling is another. Can genetic engineering help?

You tell me.


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    Tim Rymer

    John is underestimating the work that isd going on. At JSR we have 4 meat quality programmes in the market place (3 pigs , 1 Beef cattle)which are producing great eating experiences for the consumer !

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    Michael Williams

    We have developed a breeding programme that is producing pork that satisfies the "eating pleasantness" criteria.
    We are having great comments eg. "this pork stays moist,even when we cook it for a long time on high heat"
    We don't use any white breed genetics and therefore have high marbling.
    For more info:
    Michael Williams

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    Grant Walling


    I must take issue with some of the points you raise in your article on Juicy pork.

    There is a lot of research that has been done on improving meat eating quality either by steps taken by the breeding company, the producer or the processor but all of which will add to the COP. This means that a "tool kit" is available to improve quality depending on the financial reward. The largest barrier to implementing all of this is therefore the cost the public are prepared to pay for it. Yes we can improve marbling but the technology isn't cheap and genetic progress will be limited. Given easier and cheaper technologies are available but aren't being widely used e.g. maturation, I'm not convinced that the demand is there outside of the premium ranges. If this is what the consumer really wants then the reward must be shared with all components in an integrated supply chain.

    One thing I can assure you is that regardless of the technology burnt food will never taste good!

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