S.Africa’s pork industry – victim of circumstances

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Colleta Dewa 

Johannesburg – The pork indus‑ try in South Africa has been hugely affected by the listeriosis outbreak that hit the country since last year that has resulted in the death of 189 people in the country.

ath of 189 people in the country. Pork producers say their prof‑ its have badly dwindled after the consumption of pork products dropped over
the last few months.

Piggery farmer, Mark Lee Mark, told The Southern Times that profits started to wither bit by bit just after the min‑ ister of health announced the recall of prod‑ ucts that were affected by the listeria bacteria.

“We are doomed. As farmers, we are doomed. If
I calculate well, I have already made more than 50 percent loss. Sales have dropped to extremes. I am now considering cutting the workforce because I am desperate. I need to pay salaries and keep the farm in order, but with the current state of affairs, it is not possible. It seems like no one is eating pork now since the Tiger Brands prod‑ ucts were recalled,” he said.

Mark added that there was now tight competition to supply among producers due to the fall in demand.

“You know in business, there has to be a balance between demand and supply. There are many pork producers in the nation ‑ upcom‑ ing farmers, established farmers and experimenting farmers. We are all now fighting to have our produce on the market. This is really not good.”

South Africa’s Pork Producers Organisation says the challenge is the general perception by the public that all cold meats could be affected, hence they are shunning pork products.

“The challenge is the unneces‑ sary panic over all processed cold meat cuts and polony that has disturbed the whole market,” said the organisation’s chief executive officer, Johann Kotze.

He predicted that the price of pork will soon go down for the market to deal with the oversupply. “Soon there is going to be a con‑ siderable decrease in the price of pork products on store shelves. 

The decrease of 40 percent that producers felt within a week would take about three to four weeks to filter through to retailers.”

The United Nations, through the World Health Organisation, earlier warned consumers and retailers against gen‑ eralising the product recall.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that 2,000 people lost their jobs following the closure of nearly four Tiger Brands factories after the announcement by the Depart‑ ment of Health that polony from Enterprise’s Polokwane factory was the cause of the listeriosis epidemic.

Research reveals that South Africa slaughters more than two million pigs a year and the county has about 125 commercial pig farmers.

Polony is made up of 0‑2 per‑ cent pork, processed products like Viennas and pork sausages have 2‑25 percent pork content.

Altogether, about 50 percent of the pork industry’s production is processed and the other 50 percent is carcasses that are sent to the pork meat market.

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