Australians urged to eat more pork to save the pig industry

12-06-2018 | |
Australians urged to eat more pork to save the pig industry. Photo: Bert Jansen
Australians urged to eat more pork to save the pig industry. Photo: Bert Jansen

Pig farmers across Australia say they are at crisis point as pork prices plummet to the ‘worst in living memory’ due to oversupply and lower consumption rates.

It has gotten so bad for the ‘down under’ farmers that most say they are now losing AUS$50 (€32.43) per pig, and for some continuing pig farming is not sustainable. The crisis is particularly bad in South Australia where recent pig herd expansions have also been too fast to keep pace with demand thus the price drops.

Farmers have been operating at a loss for the past year and a half and some even face destroying animals they cannot sell.

Trouble finding a market for pigs

Andrew Spencer from Australian Pork Limited’s (APL) agreed that some farmers were having trouble finding a market for their pigs. He said: “I think it’s a fair summary to say there are parts of our industry certainly in major distress at the moment.

“We’ve got producers who are not only getting low prices for their pigs, some producers are unable to sell their pigs at all because they can’t find a market for them, and they don’t know which way to turn.”

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Below the break-even price

Farmers Des and Judy Gommers are losing AUS$5,000 ($3,243) per week as they are only receiving AUS$2.45 (€1.59) per kg, which Mr Gommers said is AUS$0.30 (€0.19) below the break-even price.

Speaking to the Murray Valley Standard Mr Gommers said: “It started just over 12 months ago and it’s just gradually declined. The price is still falling. We’ve had to rely on the good faith of our suppliers. I’ve been in the industry since 1966 and I don’t think I’ve seen it as bad as this. We’re looking to sell the business and retire, but who’s going to buy it? I’m nearly 67. I’m working harder than I have my whole life.”

Australia: Eat more pork!

Although farmers have been enlisting the help of politicians to address the issue, Mr Gommers called on consumers to eat more pork. He said: “It’s the sort of thing you might only eat once a week or once a fortnight, but it’s cheap enough people could be eating it a couple of times a week, against lamb or beef.”

Cheap imports being blamed

Cheap imports were also being blamed as an additional cause of the oversupply but the Department of Agriculture disagreed. A spokesman from the Federal Department of Agriculture said: “Pork imports are down 13% on last year and are expected to drop again this year by 2%. Growth in the domestic pork industry is driving lower farm gate prices, more pigs equals lower prices.”

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Chris McCullough Freelance multi-media journalist