China to drive growth of pork protein

As the impacts of African swine fever in Asia fade, pork will lead a global animal protein production surge in 2021. Locally, however, production growth will be limited, as Australia’s beef and sheep producers focus firmly on rebuilding stock numbers.
In its just-released Global Animal Protein Outlook 2021, agribusiness specialist Rabobank said China’s initial recovery from African swine fever (ASF) would emerge as the biggest driver of growth in the global animal protein sector in the year ahead – while also representing the greatest risk for global trade.
Rabobank senior animal protein analyst Angus Gidley-Baird said production growth was expected across most key animal protein markets around the world in 2021, and within most species, after a challenging 2020.
“Pork production is expected to grow faster than its protein counterparts in 2021, driven by the ASF recovery in China and Vietnam, while poultry and aquaculture are also expected to grow based on post-COVID-19 improvements to foodservice,” Gidley-Baird said.
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Beef should return to modest growth, he said, led by increased production in North America and Brazil, while wild-catch seafood would go against the growth trend, with a small decline expected due to climatic conditions and reduced quotas.
Australian outlook
With the smallest cattle herd in over 25 years, and favourable seasonal conditions, the report said Australia’s beef production would be restricted in 2021, with slaughter numbers to dip slightly from 2020.
Despite this, Gidley-Baird said improved pastoral conditions would increase average carcase weights, leading to a small lift in both production and exports in 2020.
Ongoing competition from producers, feedlotters and processors would also ensure cattle prices remained strong, although prices would ease as numbers build.
“Continued high female slaughter rates in 2020 and high livestock prices suggests a focus by producers on trading cattle rather than retaining them for breeding, and we expect herd rebuilding activities to extend into 2021,” Gidley-Baird said.
Australian lamb slaughter was however expected to increase in 2021, despite the country’s smallest sheep flock in over 75 years.
“Better breeding conditions and an increased focus on lamb production will drive increased lamb slaughter and, while carcase weights are expected to remain steady, production and, in turn, exports should grow,” Gidley-Baird said.
Domestic demand for sheep and flock rebuilding was forecast to remain firm, with export demand key to lamb pricing. And, with softer economic conditions prices –would be lower than in 2020, although remaining good, he said.
African swine fever driving change
Globally, recovery from ASF in China would be the major factor impacting the animal proteins sector in the year ahead, the report said.
China’s pig herd started its recovery in 2020 after nearly halving in size the previous year due to ASF, and would continue to grow strongly in 2021, Gidley-Baird said.
While ASF still threatens many of China’s smaller pork producers – who make up about half of the production – Rabobank expects the ongoing recovery would see the 2021 herd inventory reach above 80 per cent of pre-ASF levels.
ASF still remained active across the globe, with Germany continuing to manage an outbreak detected in September 2020, Mr Gidley-Baird said. And further herd losses were likely in the Philippines and also Vietnam, where, despite sporadic outbreaks in 2020, there was still expected to be an increase in pork production in 2021.
China to dominate global trade
Despite the recovery in China’s domestic pork production, Chinese imports of pork, poultry, beef, and seafood will continue to dominate global trade, the report says.
And, as such, any irregular swings from China could have significant consequences for producers and markets.
“Changes in China’s import policies, shifts in China’s commitment under the Phase One Trade Deal with the US or moves to avoid human or animal health risks could all present trade issues in the coming year,” Gidley-Baird said.
COVID-19 recovery
Gidley-Baird said recovery from COVID-19 would also impact the global animal protein market in 2021, with issues surrounding foodservice recovery, labour availability costs, supply chain transformations and food safety creating both opportunity and risk.
In the beef sector, Gidley-Baird said, labour availability and cost would remain the most pressing challenge for global beef processing and production.
“Given the higher cost and reduced opportunities in foodservice, margin squeeze will also be a challenge, however foodservice recovery will help lift these margins, particularly for higher-value beef cuts served in restaurants,” he said.
Reduced global poultry demand due to the economic downturn in some importing countries had impacted trade and created the need for more focus on domestic consumers, but Gidley-Baird said foodservice recovery would help balance out supply and demand.
Similarly the global pork market would shift its focus away from exports towards local consumers, mainly due to ASF but also COVID-19.
“Global seafood trade has been greatly affected by COVID-19, and the market risk will be ongoing pending foodservice recovery and improved demand – sectors such as shrimp are yet to recover from trade disruptions.” he said.
However post COVID-19 opportunities would also emerge, Gidley-Baird said, largely on the back of foodservice recovery and the rise of e-commerce direct-to-consumer trends.
Technology and innovation for a more sustainable sector ‘Tech innovations’ – such as methane-reducing additives which improved feed efficiency, or traceability to mitigate animal disease risk and offer supply chain transparency – exemplified an increasing focus on sustainability and productivity in animal protein, the report said.
These technologies, Gidley-Baird said, would enable and accelerate commercial adoption into 2021 – helping drive environmental, social and economic sustainability.
The increasing role that the market and regulators would play in improving the sustainability of the animal protein supply chain would also become clearer in 2021, Gidley-Baird said, with the number of animal protein, food retail and foodservice companies making commitments to a lower environmental footprint likely to grow.

Improving oversight of live animal exports

An independent inspector-general of Live Animal Exports to oversee regulation of the industry is a step closer today with the Bill to establish the position as a statutory appointment passing the Senate.

Agriculture Minister, Bridget McKenzie, said the community deserved greater assurance that animal welfare outcomes for export livestock were being met and monitored.

“Australia’s livestock export industry is an important contributor to our rural and regional communities and to our national economy valued at $1.7 billion and supporting thousands of jobs,” Minister McKenzie said.

“It’s a legitimate trade, however, it won’t be conducted at the expense of animal welfare standards.

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“This legislation is concrete proof of this government’s continued commitment to improving the trade—making sure the trade is well regulated and above board.

“Support for the Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports Bill 2019 means there’ll be an entrenched independent check on the Department of Agriculture’s application of the regulations and its exercise of power.

“Our livestock export system is already world class and the Inspector-General will only enhance that. I am confident that the Bill will pass the House of Representatives and become law.

“Once it does I will appoint a suitably qualified person to make sure the system is operating as it should—driving positive change in the industry, improving regulator performance and providing greater confidence to the general community about livestock exports.”

African Swine Fever losses to complicate the global dairy complex

The unprecedented contraction in the supply of pork from China, due to African Swine Fever, will have a spill-over impact on the global dairy sector, according to a new report from global agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

The report, African Swine Fever losses to complicate the global dairy complex, says with the current African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic expected to reduce China’s pork production by up to 35 per cent, there are both positive and negative price implications for global dairy.

A resulting rise in demand for beef in China could see an increased culling of dairy cows to fill some of the gap in animal protein supply, constraining China’s milk production and putting positive longer-term pressures on global milk prices.

However, with China the world’s largest pork producer – accounting for approximately 50 per cent of global pork production – and the world’s largest market for dairy-derived animal feed, the decline in feed demand is expected to have a more immediate negative impact on farm-level milk prices in key exporting countries, the report says.

For Australia though – while the rapid pace of the ASF epidemic in China presents a risk factor for the global dairy outlook which needs to be watched –  the overall global fundamentals in the dairy market remain firm and supportive of higher milk prices in the coming season in Oceania, according to Rabobank’s Australian senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey.  And at present, the bank has not altered its view of global and local milk prices.

“A potential upside factor resulting from African Swine Fever remains the impact on Chinese milk production and whether increased imports will be required to meet Chinese dairy demand,” he said. “While another spin-off benefit for local dairy producers could be the potential for Oceania beef prices to increase on a rising tide of protein prices globally – a factor that would add to their businesses options.”

Borrowdale free range pork wins gong

Borrowdale Free Range Pork has been named the winner of the 2018 ‘Steak Your Claim’ competition. The annual competition, run by industry peak body Australian Pork Limited, aims to discover the nation’s best pork steak.

The pork loin steaks were expertly assessed in ‘blind’ judging according to very specific criteria.  The winner was judged on colour, visual appeal, marbling of the raw product, aroma, flavour, juiciness and texture.

“The fact that Borrowdale Pork won the 2018 ‘Steak Your Claim’ competition proves the effectiveness of using the highest standards of ethical production.  The result is the superior flavour and tenderness of pork that is all perfectly natural,” said Paul da Silva, Marketing Manager, Borrowdale Free Range Pork.

“Borrowdale’s winning entry was just part of our regular weekly production. It’s great that it reflects the brand’s mission for everyday consumers to rediscover the real taste of pork. Borrowdale customers are all enjoying the best pork on offer” concludes da Silva.

“Australians’ appetite for pork continues to grow, and our farmers are continually looking to improve their already high-quality product” said APL General Manager of Marketing, Peter Haydon

“This competition seeks to find a really special product, and producers have responded by looking at different breeds and feeds to deliver a stunning pork steak,” continues Haydon.

The award-winning Borrowdale Pork comes from a family of free range pig farming pioneers based in Goondiwindi, on Queensland’s fertile darling downs. Their trademark low stress animal husbandry practices make Borrowdale such succulent, tender and all-natural pork.

Borrowdale Free Range Pork is supplied to leading butchers and restaurants in Australia, including ‘Dinner by Heston’ in Melbourne and ‘Quay’ in Sydney. Borrowdale is also exported to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Proposals to improve pork industry make good reading

An Australasian pork research organisation has received 40 submissions to its call for research proposals to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of the Australasian industry.

Novel means of monitoring and improving pig health and reproduction, alleviating summer infertility and enhancing genetic progress across the Australian pig herd, were just some of the subjects covered in quality research proposals submitted this week to Australasian Pork Research Institute Limited (APRIL).

APRIL, which replaces the Cooperative Research Centre for High Integrity Australian Pork (Pork CRC), is fully member based with an initial investment in 2018-2019 approaching $3 million and is actively seeking new science and creative new ideas.

Pork CRC CEO, Roger Campbell, said that at first reading the submissions looked promising, with some potential game changers, including from overseas scientists.

“APRIL is seeking innovative research proposals that can really drive positive change for Australia’s pork industry, which contributes $5 billion a year to Australia’s economy and employs 36,000 people,” Dr Campbell said.

APRIL’s strategic plan for research is about making the Australasian pork industry more resilient and sustainable by markedly reducing cost of production through enhanced productivity and differentiation in specific areas.

The target cost of production (COP) is $2.22/kg carcass weight. The current COP, with feed at $370/tonne, varies from $2.60 – $2.80/kg carcass weight.

APRIL’s three programs cover resilience, cost and return on assets.

Intending to commission research by the middle of 2018, basically one year before the close of Pork CRC operations, APRIL projects should ensure continuity of the current level of research and support opportunities for relevant research during the wind-down.


New livestock traceability reporting scheme for pork industry

Australia’s biosecurity will be further strengthened by the delivery of a national reporting scheme for the pork industry.

The move brings the pork industry in line with the cattle, sheep and goat industries.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud welcomed mandatory reporting of all pig movements under the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS), which will be introduced by all state and territory governments from this week.

“Strong traceability is a key part of a strong biosecurity system,” Littleproud said.

“The NLIS for pork, known as PigPass, uses ear tags or tattoos to identify animals. All pig movements onto farms, saleyards, showgrounds and abattoirs are documented in a database using a National Vendor Declaration. This database is used by state and territory governments to trace livestock in an emergency.

“Pigpass means animals can be identified quickly and allows the property of birth and residence to be easily located if there were ever a food safety issue or exotic disease outbreak.

“This would be important if Australia had say a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak—it would help find the source of disease and stop its spread.

“PigPass will help Australia keep its excellent reputation for delivering high quality and safe produce.

“The pork industry is important to regional Australia worth more than $1.3 billion with over 1400 pork farms across this nation.

“I encourage farmers and processors to familiarise themselves with PigPass.”

Pork CRC students making a mark

CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork supported Animal Science Honours student, Danica Evans (pictured right), who recently received First Class Honours for her work and topped her year, is now doing the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, also at Murdoch University.

Her Pork CRC Honours thesis was titled Comparison of acetylated high amylose maize starch and zinc oxide for amelioration of post-weaning diarrhoea in weaned pigs.

Evans’ supervisor, Prof John Pluske (pictured left) and Pork CRC CEO, Dr Roger Campbell agreed her results confirmed the efficacy of zinc oxide for ameliorating diarrhoea in newly-weaned pigs, but the mechanism was yet to be definitively established.

After reviewing Danica’s final report, Dr Campbell declared that the positive effects of the maize starch product, a form of resistant starch, on feed efficiency in the third week and overall were interesting and implicated a possible role for lower ileal/hindgut activity in performance.

“This is possibly linked to the gut bacteria/fermentation of favourable products from the resistant starch,” Dr Campbell said.

He added that the potential implications for grower/finisher pigs was exciting, but the issue, as always, would be cost, given the product was geared to the human market.

Congratulating Danica, Dr Campbell said coming first in her honours year was a fantastic achievement.

“We are proud of our Pork CRC supported students as they contribute to the pork industry while studying, often with significant findings from their under and post graduate studies.

“Many then, of course, go on and take up professional positions in industry where their good work continues,” he said.

Ingunn Stensland, another former Pork CRC supported Murdoch University Honours student supervised by Prof Pluske, recently commenced employment as R&D Officer with WA’s Craig Mostyn Group, best known for its Linley Valley Pork.

Dr Campbell said the uptake of Pork CRC supported students by industry had been exceptional and a clear indicator of the student and supervisor quality in Pork CRC’s education program.

Of 23 postgraduates and 12 Industry Placement Program people who started with Pork CRC (HIAP), 14 postgraduates (including seven of nine yet to complete their higher degrees) and 11 IPPs are now employed. The total is 23 as two post-grads are also IPPs.

Tony Roma’s American BBQ products land in Australia

Original BBQ pulled Pork and Carolina Honey Boneless BBQ pork ribs, two products from iconic American brand Tony Ramo’s, are now available in Australia.

Country Cooked International is manufacturing the products under license in Melbourne and they are available nationwide through Costco.

“This is very exciting because it is genuine American BBQ,” Loui Marcocci, Director of University Food Group (the parent company of Country Cooked) told Food & Beverage Industry News. “You see pop-ups with American-style BBQs opening and little weekend market BBQ smokers, so this food is becoming a big trend in Australia.”

“These products that we are now making are the real deal. The real ingredients, the real recipes – genuine out of America.”

The products are available in bulk frozen bags. The Original BBQ pulled pork comes in 1.2kg bags, while the Carolina Honey Boneless BBQ pork ribs are available in 1kg bags.

According to Marcocci, if all goes to plan further down the line, the products will be available from independent supermarkets in smaller 0.5kg bags.


The licensing agreement, which covers Australia and New Zealand, means that these two countries are among the first outside of the US where these BBQ products have been released. They are currently also available in Malaysia and Mexico, with Europe soon to follow.

“We could not be more excited about launching our retail presence outside the USA with a company like Country Cooked International,” said Stephen K. Judge, President and CEO of Romacorp (the parent company of Tony Roma’s).

“Tony Roma’s has experienced strong restaurant growth internationally over the past few years, and the brand is poised for continued domestic and international growth with new restaurants and an expanded retail presence.  This new licensing deal reinforces the strength of the Tony Roma’s brand and the trust consumers around the world have in our world-famous ribs and one-of-a-kind products.”

Marcocci said the release represents a step forward for Country Cooked.

“We’ve been going for over five years manufacturing for other retailers and manufacturers and this finally brings us out in the spotlight,” he said.

He said the company has been very successful in manufacturing high quality, high end meats and proteins which other manufacturers use in products such as finished meals and salads. “Now we’ll be able to shine in our own right rather than sit behind two or three other major brands,” he said.

Big River Pork to expand and create 140 jobs

Pork processor, Big River Pork has announced a $14 million investment at its South Australian plant which is set to create 140 new jobs in the Murray Bridge area.

The project will also create an estimated 46 jobs in the construction phase and will benefit local farmers, transport operators, feed suppliers and other participants in the local pork industry.

The expansion will enable Big River Pork to increase its production to meet a new long term supply agreement as consumer demand for pork continues to grow.

The expansion will make Big River Pork one of the largest pork processors in Australia.

Big River Pork Chairman Geoff Hampel told the ABC the project would allow the company to increase production in line with a new supply agreement.

“Over the years the shareholders of the company have increased their volumes and they’ve gained new business in various customers around Australia,” he said.

“It’s great news not only for Big River Pork and its employees but for new employees, the town and the economy.”

The company’s investment is being supported by the State Government through a total $900,000 grant with equal contributions from the Economic Investment Fund and the Regional Development Fund. Investment Attraction South Australia (IASA) has been the supporting agency in this development.

“This expansion by Big River Pork is a confident investment in South Australia, creating 140 new full time equivalent jobs, and further securing our state as a major player in the Australian pork industry,” said Premier Jay Weatherill.

“Big River Pork is a major employer in the Murraylands, with a current workforce of 190 full time equivalent positions and this will increase to a total of 330 when the expansion is expected to be completed in 2019.”

Positive Pork CRC Picture

 A very positive picture was painted for the Cooperative Research Centre for High Integrity Australian Pork at its 2016 annual general meeting and stakeholders’ meeting last week in Melbourne.

Pork CRC completed its fifth year of an eight year agreement with the Federal Government and participants on June 30, 2016.

Chairman Dennis Mutton (pictured) and CEO Roger Campbell agreed that 2015/16 had been a year of considerable achievement, with significant outcomes across Pork CRC’s four programs and positive plans and projects in place as it transitions towards 2019/20 and the start-up of Australasian Pork Research Institute Ltd (APRIL)

Mr Mutton said Pork CRC’s four program areas, which centred on sow and piglet management, herd health, growing consumption of pork and delivering through a carbon conscious industry, had continued to generate innovative solutions that delivered sustainability and profitability to Australia’s pork industry from producer to public.

“The calibre of Pork CRC’s program research partners continues to be outstanding and, in particular, I acknowledge the support of our participants, a number of whom have continued to show their commitment to the cause of quality R&D by signing up as foundation members of APRIL,” Mr Mutton said.

Dr Campbell said in the past year, participants and researchers had made further progress in understanding and enhancing sow and piglet welfare.

“With almost 80 per cent of Australian producers now having transitioned to group housing of gestating sows, sow confinement has been reduced by about 80 per cent.

“We should all be proud of this achievement, which has contributed to the term High Integrity Australian Pork becoming a marketable reality and differentiation of our product continuing to be reflected in improved demand and price.

 “While margins in 2015/16 were above the previous year and higher than for most other global pork industries, Pork CRC will continue to further differentiate Australian pork and ensure the industry remains profitable and sustainable.

 “Pork CRC research has improved the eating quality of Australian pork, demonstrated how effluent can be successfully converted into useable biogas, shown how grains and other ingredients can be more efficiently used through processing and NIRS technologies and given industry tools to better understand and control common diseases.

“I am particularly pleased to report that our R&D program has more than been matched by our education and training program, which has markedly increased the capacity and capability of the industry and will certainly help secure its future,” Dr Campbell said.

Australians being urged to buy local ham this Xmas

Australia’s most awarded butcher, Adam Stratton, is urging people to “buy local” this Christmas when it comes to selecting their festive hams.

Adam Stratton is a master butcher and runs the successful Tender Gourmet Butchery chain in Sydney. 

“Around 22 million kilograms of ham is sold in Australia at Christmas, but unfortunately, not all of that is sourced locally,” said Stratton.

“I think customers should know if the ham they serve for Christmas lunch might have spent three months on a boat being shipped in from overseas. Who knows what refrigeration has been used to get the produce here.”

“Pork products are flooding the local market from places such as Scandinavia, Asia and North America. When it comes to Christmas hams, there is no substitute for local produce. Australian produce is a clear winner for appearance, taste and value.”

“Customers need to look for the hot pink Australian PorkMark logo – this is a guarantee that the ham is made with 100 per cent Australian home-grown pork.

“In fact, research shows that around 90 per cent of Australians prefer to buy Australian produce because they believe Australian pork is fresher, of a higher quality and tastes better,” he said.

Latest figures show that nearly $10 million worth ($9.4m) of imported pork arrives in Australia every week destined to be made into ham and bacon.

IGA’s ham trots in to take national award

Independent Grocers of Australia (IGA)’s Bone in Leg Ham has been awarded the Australian Pork’s “Nationally Available Ham Award Pork Mark” for the second time.

Australian Pork’s annual Australian Ham Awards celebrates Australian grown and produced hams and aims to educate consumers on how to identify ‘true-blue’ Australian ham. 

The competition forms part of the organisation’s Ham Week, which this year runs from 29 November until 5 December 2015.

Steven Cain, Metcash Food and Grocery CEO said: “Metcash and IGA independent retailers are delighted that IGA’s home-grown Australian ham has been recognised again as the best nationally available ham in the country.

“IGA are big supporters of Australian producers and it is an honour to be recognised as one of the best in the country for a ham from Australian pork. We are very proud to be the biggest independent supermarket group bringing this product to Australian homes this Christmas, with over 1200 stores nationally stocking the range.”

Cleavers expands Paleo range into Coles

Cleavers has added two new sausage flavours and a beef burger to supermarket shelves following the success of the Paleo Beef Sausage and high consumer demand.

Expanding the availability of the Paleo range to sell in Coles and Woolworths, Cleavers has created preservative free, grain free and soy free products using 100 per cent Australian meat containing natural ingredients.

Cleavers ambassador and Paleo advocate Pete Evans said “Cleaver’s Paleo range answers the food prayers of many, including health lovers who want themselves and their families to still enjoy the deliciousness of a great Aussie barbeque, without sacrificing quality or taste.”

The range is suitable for consumers who enjoy pure food products and follows the Paleo lifestyle without sacrificing the flavour of a burger or a sausage.

ACCC skewers Primo, KR Castlemaine & Otway Pork over labelling porkies

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has concluded investigations into alleged misleading conduct in the pork industry arising from ‘free range’, ‘bred free range’ and ‘bred outdoors’ labelling. 

The ACCC has accepted court enforceable undertakings from Primo Smallgoods, KR Castlemaine and Otway Pork as a result of these investigations.

“It is important that the description on product packaging and in promotional material accurately reflects the living conditions of the animals raised for the production of meat products,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“When claims such as “free range” or “bred free range” are misused, consumers may be misled into paying more for a product feature that doesn’t exist,” Mr. Sims said.

In each of these three cases, the ACCC considered that the reference to either ‘free range’ (used by Primo Small goods) or ‘bred free range’ (used by Otway Pork and KR Castlemaine) in the promotion and labelling of the pork products was likely to give consumers the overall impression that the pigs were farmed according to free range methods. “

“These methods include that, at a minimum, pigs are able to move about freely in an outdoor paddock on most ordinary days. In fact, this was not the case.”

“In all cases, the producers have committed not to use the same descriptions unless their farming practices are such that, at a minimum, the pigs are able to move about freely in an outdoor paddock on most ordinary days. They have also agreed to implement consumer law compliance programs and publish corrective notices,” Mr Sims said.


Sunpork launches new BBQ pork range

Sunpork Fresh Foods Chinese BBQ style pork roast is set to hit shelves in Victoria and South Australia on September 1, followed by launches into NSW and Queensland in the following weeks.

Made from 100 per cent Australian pork, the roast is marinated in a delicious and fragrant Chinese BBQ sauce and then slow cooked, SunPork Fresh Foods Marketing Manager Mary-Jane Knudsen said consumers now have the opportunity to cook this classic and versatile favourite at home.

“The pork only takes about 30 minutes in the oven (depending on the weight), and the result is a fantastic, full flavoured take on this traditional favourite that usually requires hours of preparation and slow cooking,” Ms Knudsen said.

“This is sure to become a family favourite for many households as Chinese BBQ Pork Roast is loved by most of us. It’s so good to be able to prepare a dish like this at home and enjoy without the effort of dining out.”

The Pork Roast in Chinese BBQ Sauce joins the Pork Schnitzel with Peri Peri Crumb, which was launched last month.

Sold through Woolworths, SunPork is continuing to add to its popular range of pre-prepared pork products, making it easy to serve fast and tasty meals at home.

Other products include a shredded meat range, Slow Cooked BBQ pork ribs and Slow Cooked pork belly.

ACCC fines bacon maker for telling porkies

South Australian bacon maker Conroys Pty Ltd has been fined $10,200 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for making a false or misleading representation about the place of origin of its 1kg Breakfast Bacon product.

In February 2015, Conroys supplied the Bacon Product labelled as a ‘Product of Australia’ when in fact it was produced using imported pig meat. The Bacon Product was supplied in a one-off shipment of 1020kg to a wholesaler in WA.

“Many consumers have a preference for products that contain locally sourced ingredients and are often prepared to pay a premium for these products,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“As it is often difficult for consumers to determine where products come from, it is crucial that businesses provide accurate information about the place of origin of the goods that they supply.”

“False claims of this kind not only mislead consumers but can also disadvantage competing suppliers, particularly those who source local ingredients for their products,” Mr Sims said.

Beak & Sons Gourmet Tuscan Pork Sausages Gluten Free

Product Name: Beak & Sons Gourmet Tuscan Pork Sausages Gluten Free

Product Manufacturer: Beak & Sons

Launch date: July 2015

Ingredients: Pork (78%), Water, Fennel (3%), Parmesan Cheese (Milk) (1%) Gluten Free Breadcrumbs (Contains soy, raising agents (500,575)), Maize Flour, Salt, Stock Powder (Natural Flavours), Spices, Herb, Mineral Salt (451), Preservative (223), Canola Oil, Natural Hog Casting.
Shelf Life: 14 days

Packaging: Foam Trays

Country of origin: Australia


Description: Australian favourite Beak & Sons have released their brand new Gourmet range of sausages; adding a luxury twist to a Gluten Free product. The new Gourmet Range introduces three new recipes including: Chicken and Mushroom; Tuscan Pork and always popular Traditional Beef.
The Beak and Sons family butcher’s sausages boast a high meat content, and they are naturally gluten free. Beak and Sons never add artificial flavours, colours or MSG because they are as devoted now to putting a better sausage on your fork as they were back in 1910. 

The Gluten Free Gourmet Range will join other Beak and Sons products on shelves across Australia.

RRP $6.49

Contact Email

SunPork puts some spicy pork on your fork

SunPork Fresh Foods have combined the best of both worlds with the latest offering in their popular schnitzel range.

The Pork Schnitzel with Peri Peri Crumb hit shelves at the beginning of August, combining the mildly spicy flavour with traditional favourite, the schnitzel.

The crunchy schnitzels are made from 100 per cent Australian pork and seasoned with the tangy crumbs.

With a cooking time of just four minutes, all you need to do is add a salad, potatoes or your favourite side dish for a healthy, convenient meal.

SunPork Fresh Foods Marketing Manager Mary-Jane Knudsen said schnitzels have long been a crowd pleaser.

“It’s often a favourite in restaurants and we want to help people create that restaurant experience in their own homes,” Ms Knudsen said.

“Schnitzels can be a bit fiddly to make, so we’ve done the hard work so our customers can enjoy a Schnitty night at home.”

The new Peri Peri Schnitzel joins the traditional favourite in Lightly Seasoned Crumbs.

Sold through Woolworths, SunPork is continuing to add to its popular range of pre-prepared products. Other products include a shredded meat range, Slow Cooked BBQ pork ribs and Slow Cooked pork belly.

Country of Origin Labelling: it’s changing, but what is the cost?

The country of origin labelling debate has been gaining momentum for years and new Country of Origin labels will appear on shelves before the end of the year – but what will be the cost of these changes, and will they really make a difference?

Although the legislation will be introduced in the Federal Parliament in Early December, the verdict is in and the new labels have been released.

What we've got

The proposed country of origin labels will include new standard phrases and a kangaroo and bar-chart graphic. This will be supplemented by online information and smart phone apps.

The new labels will communicate two key messages:

  1. Whether the food was grown or made in Australia: this will be the first part of the phrase (E.g. Made in Australia) and the kangaroo will only be used if the food was grown or made in Australia.
  2. What percentage of the ingredients in the food/product was Australian grown: the bar chart will communicate the percentage (in bands/increments) of the ingredients that were grown in Australia, this will be the second part of the standard phrase (E.g. Made in Australia from 100% Australian ingredients)

There will also be the option to change the label seasonally, to depict the percentage of Australian ingredients in the product, or make an “at least” claim all year around, e.g. “Made in Australia from at least 20% Australian ingredients,” or use a seasonal average, e.g. “Made in Australia from seasonal produce – average 50% Australian ingredients, scan barcode for more info.”

There is no requirement to provide any further information. Companies will be encouraged to provide specific ingredient information, but it will only be on a voluntary basis. This means that while the labels will show if none of the ingredients were grown in Australia, they will not specify where they were grown, unless the company decides to display that information.

New rules have also been brought in to make it clear what “made in” means. In order to make a “made in” claim, the company must be “substantially transforming ingredients so the end product is something fundamentally different to the grown ingredients.” The claim ‘made in’ does not mean importing ingredients and just performing minor processes on them, like slicing, freezing, canning, bottling, reconstituting or packing. When the origin of the ingredients is Australian, additional claims such as ‘grown in Australia’ or ‘product of Australia’ may also be used.

New rules will also require any “packed in” statements to include a clear country of origin statement, specifying where the ingredients are from.

Above: some of the new labels.

Who cares?

In 2012, in a survey of 743 CHOICE members, 71 per cent of said it was crucial or very important to know where food comes from.

When asked about their reasons for buying Australian food, two-thirds of consumers said they feel strongly about buying Australian to keep food manufacturing jobs in Australia, while three quarters said they feel strongly about buying Australian to support Australian farmers.

It’s a seemingly simple equation; improve the country of origin labelling and Australians will buy Australian, right?

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) is not convinced.

In its submission to the Country of Origin Food Labelling Inquiry, the AFGC said while there are many surveys that indicate consumers “want” origin labelling and that they “would” buy Australian if it were more clearly labelled, actual consumer behaviour is demonstrably different.

The submission referenced a 2014 Catalyst survey of Australian grocery buyers, that found as few as one in six (and possibly only one in nine) shoppers cite country of origin or “Australian” as a top three driver of their purchasing decisions, although 61 per cent of respondents regularly check country of manufacture. For Australian consumers, key drivers of actual purchasers are price, quality, brand and habit.

All CoOL claims are not created equal

The survey also found that consumers placed roughly equal value on the importance of place of manufacture, as they did to the source of ingredients. Consumers place more importance on where the product is grown for fresh food like meat and vegetables, while the place of manufacture is important for processed products like confectionary and baked goods.

Simon Crabb, Owner of SJC Food Processing Consulting says consumers care if a product is Australian because they are either patriotic and they buy Australian to support the industry, or do so because of Australia’s high standards.

“People feel that if they’re buying something from overseas, they might not understand too much about how those products are grown or processed or packed overseas and they may rather buy Australian and spend a bit more because I believe we’ve got a better ability to keep the key factors in production right.”

While Crabb admits that not every consumer cares about CoOL, he says “more and more from what I can see, more people want to know ‘what am I eating and where did it come from and how was it produced?’ …So I think some people will certainly applaud the change.”

Who will it effect?

Australia’s pork, horticulture and seafood industries are three food commodities that are closely involved in the country of origin debate, according to the CEO of Australian Pork Limited (APL), Andrew Spencer.

“Australian agriculture is the only big commodity where we compete in Australia, in our own market with imported produce,” Spencer says.

“That basically applies to pork, where we have imported pork being used to make ham and bacon, it applies to horticulture, where we are importing some fruit and vegetables and it also applies to seafood, where we are importing fish and prawns. If you think of the rest, beef, lamb, grains and other types of commodities, there’s very little or no imports whatsoever.

“There’s a range of reasons for that. Some of it’s to do with biosecurity protocols at border…so that means you don’t get competition internally where domestic goods compete with imported goods. There’s also of course the market issues. For example, Australia’s one of the most sufficient producers of lamb in the world, so no one can really afford to start trying to compete against us in our own market,” he says.

The pork industry’s processed products, in particular, ham and bacon, are likely to feel the positive impacts of a clearer labelling system.

“Today around 70 per cent or more of all ham and bacon consumed in Australia is made from imported pork,” Spencer says.

Under the new system, the “Made in Australia” claim can no longer appear on imported pork without specifying that it is made from imported pork, a move that Spencer calls “a significant step forward.” While the new system has been criticised for leaving it up to the manufacturers to voluntarily declare the origin of a product’s main ingredient, Spencer isn’t phased.

“Actual country of origin can’t always be mandatory as this changes for many processors through the year, who swap between the US and Canada as source countries.”

Whether changes to labelling will put pressure on processors to source Australian, will all depend on consumer preference.

Not so simple

The issue with CoOL is that it must be applicable to many different commodities, and while one solution works for one industry, it may disadvantage another.

Over-regulating CoOL requirements could penalise Australian food exporters from trading on “Brand Australia” – particularly popular in Asian markets. This would be a huge disadvantage, at a time when many food manufactures have their eye on the Asian market.

Australia also has an agreement with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that requires that any technical measures (such as origin labelling) not to discriminate against imported products and be based upon demonstrated need for regulation. This means that changes to CoOL must not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfil its objective; to inform.

Imported products will continue to be required to be labelled with a country of origin (Product of Thailand, Made in Canada etc.), and labels on foods claimed to be packed in a particular country must indicate whether they include ingredients imported into that country. Importers will also be required to make their country of origin claim in a box on the label, like Australian producers, so it can be easily found by consumers.

The US recently ran into trouble with the World Trade Organisation (WTO), after it introduced mandatory CoOL, in response to small scale beef producers who believed consumers would support local product and pay more. But, unfortunately for the producers, they didn’t. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body panel declared several aspects of the CoOL requirements to be in violation of international law as it created a cost structure that favoured domestic suppliers, without meeting a legitimate objective.

Where to from here?

The next step for the government is to work with the States and Territories, with plans to introduce the legislation to Federal Parliament in early December 2015. But the government expects the new labels will be voluntarily displayed before Christmas. Once the policy is legislated, a staggered phase-in period will come into force on the 1st of April 2016.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Industry and Science said to assist with the transition to the new labels, “there will be further consultations including industry workshops across the country as well as an online portal where companies can access information and download the labels.

“With some companies sourcing produce from all over the world and ingredients changing regularly printing different labels isn’t practical. Importantly, all imported products must clearly state their country of origin which will be printed in a box with the country of origin is defined as where a product was made or grown, such as ‘Made in Italy’ or ‘Product of Canada’.”

While businesses previously had to pay up to use the green and gold kangaroo, those who qualify for the ‘Made in’ claim will be able to use the kangaroo as part of the new label at no cost.

The maximum cost for those in the food sector manufacturers, according to the Department of Industry and Science, “is around 0.2 of a percent on a product that costs $2.50, or half a cent. This is a cost that is only incurred in cases where a company wasn’t already going to change their label between now and when it’s enforced and a lot of companies will indeed want to revamp their labelling to highlight the Australian ingredients included in the product.”

So, will it really make a difference? It’s over to the consumers.


It will take a ban on caging pigs to clean up the pork industry

A current bill before the New South Wales Parliament proposes to end the use of sow-stalls.

Sow-stalls, sometimes referred to as gestation crates, are small metal and concrete cages measuring 2.2 by 0.6 metres in which pregnant pigs are kept for up to 105 days.

If passed, New South Wales would become the second Australian jurisdiction to do so, after the Australian Capital Territory banned their use in 2014.

But in 2010, Australian Pork Limited (APL), the peak representative body for the pork industry, agreed to a voluntary phase-out of sow-stalls by 2017.

So why do we need a ban anyway?

The problem with sow-stalls

It is hard to say for certain the extent of physical and psychological harm caused by keeping pregnant pigs in sow-stalls. Key pieces of scientific research conducted in this area have been funded either in whole or part by APL. Whether or not this funding influences the research outcomes is difficult to say.

In any event, researchers have found that the lack of exercise caused by such confinement reduces bone strength and muscle weight in sows and they report higher incidences of lameness.

We also know that these intelligent animals will bite the bars of their cage to express boredom or frustration at their confinement. The pregnant sows develop skin abrasions from the metal bars as the stall is not much larger than their body.

Furthermore, such confinement deprives these pigs from exercising natural behaviours, such as foraging for food and nesting. It is these kinds of harms that have seen sow-stalls banned or their use substantially restricted in countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, and New Zealand, among others.

Why is a law to ban sow-stalls necessary?

The voluntary phase-out can be seen as the industries response to market-forces. Retailers such as Coles and Woolworths have already responded to this demand.

Coles' own brand pork products have been sow-stall free since 2013, while Woolworths is committed to sourcing all its fresh pork products from producers who use sow-stalls for less than 10% of the sows' gestation period.

Despite the apparent success of market forces, there remain important reasons why governments still need to regulate farm animal welfare.

There are important limitations to the APL’s voluntary phase-out.

First, the phase-out only applies to APL members. Only 38% of pork producers in Australia are APL members (although they account for 94% of pig meat products), so there will still be animals not covered under the voluntary scheme.

Second, as the phase-out is voluntary, APL members who choose not to comply cannot be forced to do so – although they may be engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct if they promote their products as sow-stall free.

Third, the voluntary phase-out will be policed through industry self-regulation. This appears to involve auditing by the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program, which is owned and managed by APL.

There are limits to the efficacy of industry self-regulation given the tension that can exist between profit maximisation and animal welfare goals.

Fourth, the voluntary phase-out will not mean pigs are free-range or free from confinement. The APL voluntary phase-out provides a qualified definition of “gestation stall free”, which will allow pigs to be confined to mating stalls and farrowing crates for up to 10% of their pregnancy.

Also, the alternate to sow-stalls proposed by APL is “loose housing”, which will not guarantee any access to the outdoors, opportunities for socialising or access to bedding/nesting materials.

The need for a ban

To protect all pregnant pigs from sow-stalls, laws must be passed in each Australian State and Territory. The ACT has already done so and the current NSW bill aims to follow in its footsteps.

Although the ACT never had sow-stalls operating in its territory, the amendment to its Animal Welfare Act will ensure it stays this way.

The NSW bill is closely modelled on the ACT amendment. Both provide for “appropriate accommodation” for all pigs.

Appropriate accommodation means that pigs must be able to turn around, stand up and lie down without difficulty. The floor is to be clean, comfortable and well-drained. The facilities must enable pigs to maintain a comfortable body temperature and have access to an outdoor area.

Unlike the ACT model, the NSW bill does allow pigs to remain wholly indoors provided bedding material and enrichment objects are made available and the pig is able to move about freely.

Another difference is the requirement that pigs be housed in “compatible groups”, being “a group of two or more pigs that can be kept together without undue stress to any of those pigs.” This will help reduce aggression and fighting between pigs.

A final difference between the ACT legislation and the NSW bill is that farrowing crates (which were designed to reduce the chance of piglets being trampled or crushed by the sow) will also be banned by 2020 if the NSW bill is successful.

Although a voluntary phase-out of sow-stalls may improve the lives of some pregnant sows, a law requiring all pork producers to provide “appropriate accommodation” for the pigs in their care is the better option. This will ensure the rule covers all producers and enables direct governmental oversight.

No doubt the bill will have some limitations. However, as the community’s expectations shift, the decision to end the use of sow-stalls should rest with parliament, not industry.

The Conversation

Aaron Timoshanko is Sessional Academic and Research Assistant at Flinders University, PhD Candidate at Monash University.
Joanna Kyriakakis is Lecturer in Law at Monash University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.