Despite Australia’s multi-million dollar pork industry, senior executives say shoppers spend most of their money at the supermarket on imported meats.
Despite Australia’s multi-million dollar pork industry, senior executives say shoppers spend most of their money at the supermarket on imported meats.

Why Aussie pork farmers aren’t bringing home the bacon

Aussies are being implored to buy local when they bite into their next ham sandwich or bacon roll as pig farmers battle against massive ­imports.

Industry heavyweights are hoping more Australians will turn to locally produced pork products this year instead of shelling out $17m a week on processed pork imported into the country - most of it from the US and Denmark.

While no fresh pork is imported, much of the ham, bacon and other cooked and cured pork products sold in Australia - which make up the majority of pork consumption here - is sourced from overseas and often subsidised.

 

Local poprk producers like the ones at Melanda Park free range piggery don’t do aa well as the overseas industry. Picture: Malanda Park
Local poprk producers like the ones at Melanda Park free range piggery don’t do aa well as the overseas industry. Picture: Malanda Park

 

"Very few things shock me these days, but it's disappointing Australian agriculture doesn't get the homegrown support it deserves," Noah Moseley, who runs the Calmsley Hill City Farm in Sydney's west, said of the impact of ­the ­imports.

"It's also a bit eye-opening when we go through a period like we have with coronavirus, where you realise we can't always rely on the rest of the world."

Matt Simmons, whose family-run farm Melanda Park in the Hunter Valley and Hawkesbury produces 3000 free-range pigs every year, said it was disappointing to see Australian produce ­neglected in favour of cheaper imports.

"It's honestly pretty crazy," he said. "We've already got some of the best produce here in Australia, so it's disappointing to see that much still imported."

Ravaged by drought, the price of pork bottomed out in mid-2019 at a time when the cost of feeding livestock was soaring. Some producers quit the industry.

 

 

However, industry bodies say they're confident of a ­resurgence in this year.

Julia Unwin, communications director at Australian Pork, said she was buoyed by research conducted late last year that suggested 62 per cent of shoppers had become more conscious about buying Australian products.

"COVID is making people look at where their food is coming from," she told The Daily Telegraph.

She said consumers were "genuinely shocked" about the amount of foreign pork on Australian shelves.

"I think most Aussie shoppers think what they're buying is Australian pork … when so much of it is produced in the US, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK," she said.

She called on Aussies to pay particular attention to the Country of Origin labelling on food products - in particular the bar graph that indicates how much of the item is produced locally.

 

Celebrity chef Luke Mangan says Australians should know more about their pork products. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Celebrity chef Luke Mangan says Australians should know more about their pork products. Picture: Dylan Robinson

 

"We're fairly confident going into 2021 that Aussies will be looking to buy local," she said.

Celebrity chef Luke Mangan said while industry standards and the cost of labour meant Aussie-produced pork products could be more ­expensive than the ­imported version, Australians "should have the choice" of knowing whether they were eating local or foreign.

Writing for The Daily Telegraph today, the restaurateur said pork was one example of a local market being neglected for cheaper foreign alternatives, with seafood, fruit and vegetables facing similar issues.

"To import $17m of pork a week is an obscene amount," he said. "If it's produced in Australia, at the end of the day it's treated better, it tastes better - it's a far superior product."

 

Originally published as Why Aussie pork farmers aren't bringing home the bacon



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