Just when pork producers thought they saw light at the end of the tunnel, H1N1 turned up. The influenza A scares caused a somewhat depressing atmosphere at this year's World Pork Expo, in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, in June. The 'why' is not hard to see.
Naming the new virus 'swine flu' caused fear amongst governments, pork traders and buyers alike, around the globe. Worldwide, pork trade decreased. Mexican pork sales had even temporarily dropped by 80%. The US pig industry is set to lose $800 million until the end of this year, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) predicted. This all came on top of the feed crisis and the financial crisis – and it was feared that the climate would be increasingly difficult to recover from.
What if, however, this H1N1 was the last obstacle on the way up? In Europe, the H1N1 news was closely followed, but it did not seem to have too large implications. Pork consumption in Belgium, for instance, remained intact. Consumers appeared not too worried despite the news on the flu scares from Mexico. UK pork consumption did not suffer either – on the contrary, pork sales showed a strong growth recently.
One British analyst was quoted saying, “Pork is currently the best performing of the red meats. […] Consumers have been getting a little immune to the last few food scares. Unless they can see a direct effect, they are tending not to pay too much attention.”
Now that is an interesting thought. And it gets even better. He went on saying that 'pork is the cheapest of the red meats' and that consumers' minds 'have been affected by the recession'.
This must be a hopeful thought. Just when the pork industry thought that the last crisis in a series was one too many – one of them actually might bring relief. Once more, the old saying is true: if you can't beat them, join them!
It's not too late. Let's get those barbecues out and have a great summer!