Speaking at the MLC Outlook conference, Mick Sloyan, chief executive of BPEX, told delegates the they should invest in training and aim to sell their pork for use in the premium product market.
"Better trained staff can actually reduce the cost of production," he said, adding that investment in training was one of the key issues for 2007.
Producers should aim to sell their pork in the higher tiers of the market, for use in "finest" or "premium" supermarket ranges. The cost per kilogram of bacon in Tesco, he said, varied from £3.72 for 'value' to £11.52 for 'finest'.
Sloyan described the consumer market in 2006. Retail pork volumes were down slightly (-0.6%) but spend was up (+0.5%). Retail bacon was down (-5%) further than value (-0.9%), and ham volumes were up (+3%) and spend was even higher (+7%).
Meanwhile sausage purchases were also up a little (+0.6%) with spend higher (+1%).
All of this suggests a shift towards premium products in pork, which producers needed to respond to, Sloyan said.
Sloyan warned pork producers needed to be vigilant and there were challenging times ahead. Studies suggesting links between pork and cancer that were due out this year needed to be tackled head on, he said.
Fighting diseases will also continue to be a challenge.
"We need to make sure it is dealt with on the farm, in the abattoir and in production," Sloyan said.