Insight for pig producers

Young pig producers gained a valuable insight into what influences consumers when they buy pork and where the burgeoning markets are likely to be in the future at the first West Country young pig producers dinner held in Exeter recently.

Guest speaker Rick Sanderson, Pork Chain Business Development Manager for PIC (UK), gave a lively and informative presentation about the pork supply chain to more than 20 young producers attending the evening event.

The real surprise to come out of the evening was that the main driver for the consumer buying pork was the menu - ie what am I going to cook? Selection of pork was then determined by appearance, not price and 64% of consumers prefer British pork.

Rick also spoke about the interaction between the physical environment and genetics in influencing meat quality and highlighted the fact that producers can control about 75 - 80%. This is through the control of diet, housing, stress, pre and post slaughter handling, carcase chilling and maturation.

So what can producers learn and use from this?

Fine-tuning production methods will help to make units as efficient as possible and the evidence for the increase in demand for niche products suggests this is where the real growth is in the market. These are likely to be a higher demand for organic, fair trade and locally and regionally produced products.

John Dunning, who runs a 300 indoor, straw-based unit in Devon and attended the event said: "This was a very informative and useful event and I learnt a lot about what the consumer wants. It was also good to meet other producers in the industry and compare practices as there is little opportunity to do this. I hope there will be more meetings like this."

It is anticipated the event will have set the ball rolling for South West producers to get together and forge successful working relationships.

The venture is the brainchild of Oliver Bown of Thames Valley Cambac (TVC), who deals with many of the producers in the area on a weekly basis and saw a need for them to work as a closer group.

The event was organised by Helen Thoday, Knowledge Transfer Manager, BPEX, TVC and the National Pig Association who are keen to support young producers in the area.

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