Christmas proving positive for Aussie pig farmers

24-12-2008 | |

Australian pig farmers which stuck through the tough times of recent years are now reaping price rises of 50 per cent. This is due to a downturn in pig numbers (20%) and higher demand.

Australian Pork Limited chief executive Andrew Spencer confirms that the industry has taken a significant hit during the past year. The local product had been undercut by subsidised imports from Canada and Denmark, and further weakened by drought-driven high grain prices.

At this time last year the local pork industry estimated it was losing $3.5million a week. As of June this year, there were 240,000 breeding sows in Australia, down from 300,000 two years earlier, with about 20% of Australian pig farmers leaving the industry over the past two years.

Australians consume more than 54,000 tonnes of ham a year. Mr Spencer said the vast majority of cheap ham, eaten in sandwiches and salads through the year, comes from overseas, whereas the ham on the bone eaten at Christmas time was mostly the local product.

Only processed pork could be imported. But this had not stopped some manufacturers legally labelling imported ham and bacon that had been smoked and packaged in this country “Made in Australia”.

But now supply is down and demand is driving up prices, although it will take farmers some time before they recouped the losses of the past year. Although the price of pork had risen, Spencer argued, “The relativity of pork price versus red meat and chicken is still very, very competitive. It is still a cost-effective purchase, so I don’t think at the consumer level there is anything to worry about.”

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