The Italian pig industry is going through a deep crisis as feed prices cause higher production costs, which hits the traditional Parma ham industry extra hard, the Dutch agricultural newspaper Agrarisch Dagblad reports.
Pigs reared for Parma ham production are being slaughtered at a minimum of nine months and weigh about 160 kg – hence cost prices of this industry are about 20% higher than conventional pig production.
Italian consumers, known for their preference for high-quality foods, are now being said to shift to different, cheaper varieties of ‘prosciutto’, as they call ham in Italy.
Parma hams are being sold in Rome for about €24/kg, but prices can raise up to €50. Exports are about 20% and rising only slowly.
Giandomenico Gusmaroli, chairman of the Italian union of pig producers (ANAS), said: “The quick growth in feed and energy prices have led to an eruption in an already critical situation. Our products with traceability guarantees – our pride – hardly yield any profit and production legislation makes it even more difficult.”
Ham production used to make the difference for producers, and other pork could be sold as by-products. Nowadays, however, profit margins on hams have gone, Gusmaroli explained.
These other pork products should be sold against better prices, he said.
Italy is a net importer of pork and pigs as in 2007, the country imported 967,000 tonnes of pork and 785,000 piglets.
â€¢ Agrarisch Dagblad
â€¢ ANAS (in Italian)