THE pork market has plummeted to the cost of production, with imported pork – including semi-cooked pork bellies and ribs coming from New Zealand – carrying most of the blame.
The market has dropped $1 a kilogram since this time last year, according to Victorian Farmers Federation pork committee chair John Bourke, Stanhope.
“This time last year we were getting $3.80/kg,” Mr Bourke said.
“Now, we are getting $2.80/kg and all because of cheap imports, dodgy labeling and supermarkets who don’t give a damn about us.”
Pork consumption is at its highest, with Australians currently consuming at least 10kg of pork per person each year.
Each year, five million pigs are slaughtered in Australia, helped by Australian Pork Limited’s (APL) advertising focus on fresh pork consumption.
NSW Farmers pork committee chairman, Ean Pollard, Young, said semi-cooked products were a big issue facing pork producers.
“It is really difficult for pork producers to lose 65 per cent of the market share to frozen imported boned legs and cuts from the United States, Canada and Denmark, which are processed into hams and bacons, but now, imported semi-cooked products are ripping the guts out of our industry,” Mr Pollard said.
However, APL chief executive officer Andrew Spencer said pork bellies weren’t the sole cause of the market downturn, despite being a big part of the problem.
“When the Swickers pork boning room in southern Queensland was destroyed by fire in November last year, that meant the 1000 bodies they processed and exported each week into Singapore, had to be absorbed into the domestic market,” he said.
“Since January this year, there has been a huge quantity of semi-cooked pork bellies and ribs coming into Australia via NZ.
“We suspect these are coming from the United States and, to get around the ban of importing fresh pork, the processing and packaging is being done, and labelled as from NZ, and going into the food service sector.
“It is difficult to trace from here.”
Forbes stock agent, Murray Reid, who holds fortnightly pig sales, said value for pigs was dropping rapidly.
“We have blokes bringing pigs from Victoria simply to get rid of them as they can’t afford to keep them,” he said.
“I’ve heard that before Christmas 2016, wholesalers in Sydney were selling spare ribs for $15/kg, but now can’t sell the same product for $5/kg, as the NZ products are even cheaper.”
He said the majority of pigs sold were white, however, there was huge demand for older breed black pigs, which they find difficult to supply. “The prices for those are the opposite to what’s happening in the mainstream industry.”