Pork from Dutch producers exported to California

Photo: Martijn ter Horst

A group of certified pig producers from the Netherlands has started shipping pork to the US state of California, as that meat complies with the state’s new Prop 12 laws.

Dutch meat processor Vion Food shared this news. The producers are part of the novel partial concept “Good Farming Balance: World,” initiated by the meatpacker in combination with pork producers. The eligible producers had already been participating within the regular Good Farming Balance concept, which started in 2017 and is intended for sales on the international pork markets.

Prop 12 legislation in California

Under the new Prop 12 legislation in California, as from July 2023, uncooked cuts of whole pork meat have to comply with rules that deviate from what has been conventional in the USA. Prop 12 states that this pork should come from a system in which sows have been able to stand up, extend their legs, turn around, and have 24 ft² (2.2 m²) at their disposal. The legislation applies to sows without piglets, so it has a particular impact on the gestation and breeding phases.

The introduction of Prop 12 led to a lot of debate in the US, and even had to be settled in the US Supreme Court, in May 2023. Apart from pigs, the introduction of the legislation also affects veal calves and layer hens.

Market opportunity for Vion

Vion has identified the Prop 12 introduction as a market opportunity as the US industry is converting to meet the new standards in the state. The number of pig farms is relatively limited in California, but the number of customers is substantial with up to 39 million inhabitants.

Complying with California regulations

Vion declined to provide further details about the amount of pork that was shipped to California, nor did the company share details about the Dutch farms that got certified. The meatpacker did communicate that 2 US auditors visited the participating farms and approved pork to be complying with California regulations.

Pork availability in other US states

The pork processor indicated to be closely following future developments related to Prop 12 as potentially this may have consequences for pork availability in other US states. Apart from California, however, the state of Massachusetts also recently introduced new legislation, much in line with Prop 12. The meatpacker declined to share details whether or not the approved farms could theoretically also ship their cargo to this state in Eastern US.

Demand driven chain concepts

In recent years, Vion has been introducing various so-called demand driven chain concepts to be better able to address chain production according to a specific demand from the market. Apart from the concept “Good Farming Balance,” the company has also been working with the concepts “Good Farming Star” since 2010 and “Robusto.”

Join 18,000+ subscribers

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about all the need-to-know content in the pigsector, three times a week.
ter Beek
Vincent ter Beek Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world