'Lucrative opportunities': Asia 'incredibly important' market for UK pork sector

Asia is of importance to UK pig sector, in particular China - which accounts for 27% of worldwide pig trade
Asia is of importance to UK pig sector, in particular China - which accounts for 27% of worldwide pig trade

Asia is an 'incredibly important' market for the pork sector and which has many 'lucrative opportunities' for meat producers.

That was the overriding message from industry experts at ‘Pigs 2022: The Opportunities’ – a two-day conference organised by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in partnership with Pig World.

At the first day of the event, which looked at the global picture for the sector, speakers from the UK, Danish and US pig industries came together to look at what the next five years holds for the industry.

And one of the key messages was opportunities exist in the Far East and the UK pig sector must set its sights on these burgeoning markets.

Importance of China

Director of international food consultancy GIRA Richard Brown highlighted the importance of China – which currently accounts for 27% of worldwide pig trade – when he gave a talk on where the global pork market is heading.

He also highlighted a rise in meat consumption worldwide and stressed that while the big winner is chicken, largely due to price, pork is still performing well.

Producers were also told the pig sector was less vulnerable to the effects of Brexit compared to other sectors as it’s already trading with key regions that are seeing significant growth.

Vice President of the National Pork Producers Council in America Nicholas Giordano spoke about the expanding pig industry in the States – which currently has around 60,000 producers.

He said the US is also targeting Asia – where middle class society is set to double during the next 15 years, offering significant opportunities for the pork sector.

Brexit - biggest challenge

Other speakers included Adam Crouch, of Cranswick Country Foods, who examined the future of the British pork industry – highlighting Brexit as the biggest challenge.

There was a presentation from McDonalds Director Connor McVeigh, who told delegates bacon was one of their customers’ favourite products.

AHDB Pork Chairman Mike Sheldon, who welcomed more than 200 delegates to the first day, said: “A priority for us all is to understand what our competitors are doing, where they are innovating, where they are investing and what technologies they are adopting.

“This is about making sure that none of our competitors is successful in trying to eat our lunch; it’s about making sure we take advantage of the latest thinking, wherever it originates.

“Having understood what is going on elsewhere, that knowledge is only useful if we act here in our industry and that action requires courage, speed and imagination.”

The second day of the conference looked at how the sector can benefit from innovation in areas such as animal health and welfare, hygiene and pig buildings.

Prof Patrick Wall of University College Dublin gave a talk on the challenges of responding to consumers’ demands in a global market place and Richard Williamson, of Beeswax Farming, discussed how they were planning for the future in a brave new world.