THE huge volume of pigmeat available to the market is keeping returns low for local producers but Australian Pork Limited believes prices have bottomed out.
Speaking at a pig industry update meeting held at Tanunda on Friday, APL marketing development manager Peter Smith said in December last year, when conditions were fairly rosy for producers, the amount of pigs being slaughtered had risen 2.5 per cent on the previous year, and the volume of pigmeat being produced rose 3.2pc. But by the end of June this year, the percentages had risen even higher, with slaughtering up 3.2pc and volumes up 5.2pc.
“If you look at the amount of pigmeat produced in June this year, compared to June last year, it’s up 7pc, so there’s a lot of meat out there,” he said.
“The average slaughter weight for SA is sitting at about 80 kilograms, compared to 76kg last year, so we’re not only killing more pigs, but there’s a lot more meat to get rid of in the process.”
Mr Smith said prices seemed to have stabilised recently, with the national average baconer price at $2.78/kg. But, he said some producers were still reporting prices as low as $1.80/kg.
“One positive is that some people are telling me the pigmeat in freezers is starting to tighten up,” he said. “But a negative is that penalties are being more strictly applied on pigs that are out of spec.”
Mr Smith said while consumption of pork was growing, at 10.9kg per capita, unfortunately the weights in Australian pigs were growing at a higher rate than demand.
“Retail prices for pork have fallen, they are about $11/kg and they were about $12/kg,” he said.
“Retailers are using pork to draw in business, because they don’t have any room for specials on beef and lamb.”
APL is undertaking a range of campaigns to help the industry, including YouTube videos featuring chefs talking about the poor quality of imported pork ribs.
Mr Smith said while in the past advertising had been directed at top-end chefs, initiatives such as advertising with the Hog’s Breath chain targeted volume markets.