SA pork industry ‘well positioned and future fit’

South Africans have not stopped buying pork despite prices being pushed higher by rising input costs for farmers.

South Africa’s pork industry is standing strong, with consumer demand remaining strong despite price increases caused by the higher prices farmers must pay for pig feed.

The industry is also managing to weather the disruption to international market access that is being caused by the covid-19 pandemic, says Johann Kotzé, CEO of the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation’s (SAPPO).

He says the demand for pork in Mzansi is expected to grow considerably, and the industry is optimistic that it is “future fit”.

The organisation representing pork producers in Mzansi says it acknowledges consumer baskets might be under pressure in the future. However, he is confident local producers will thrive thanks to a favourable demand for pork products locally.

“The industry is doing exceptionally well in a very difficult time. We are in good standing, despite the feed prices having gone up drastically and being much higher than last year.

“Currently, 70% of the total production costs locally are calculated as feed, so the increase definitely impacted us as an industry even though farmgate prices went up,” Kotzé explains.

Resilient despite affected market routes

While the nationwide lockdown affected routes to market for pork producers, the industry did not collapse. Kotzé says he is grateful for that and reports that locally there have been no closures of abattoirs and processing facilities.

Johann Kotzé, CEO of the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO). Photo: Supplied.

The SAPPO CEO is convinced their industry’s resilience is thanks to the forward-thinking farmers that make up Mzansi’s pork industry.

“The industry’s success is not because of SAPPO, but it is because of the great leadership of our farmers who have a lot of vision. Our farmers are forward thinkers and invest in their businesses. That excites me and makes me believe that we are future fit as an industry,” Kotzé states.

Pork represents a relatively small industry in the South African meat context, accounting for merely 7% of total meat consumption in South Africa from 2015 to 2017. Being a smaller industry, prices tend to be led by substitute meat types such as beef and poultry.

Although being one of the toughest years, Kotzé adds producers are also investing in new projects and expanding with new operations.

Industry gets ready to shift focus

In his message to pork producers, Kotzé states, “We need to benchmark ourselves with the international market, regardless of what the exchange rate is. And we are there already. Locally pork is well priced, and we have a great drive among farmers to be cost efficient.”

South Africa is a minor player in the global pork market, accounting for only 0.18% of global pork production. The local industry produces about 182 000 tonnes, while imports amount to about 25 000 tonnes. Import countries include Germany, France, Spain, Canada, Brazil and the USA.

Kotzé tells Food For Mzansi that in the near future, much attention will be on responsibility within the food production context.

He reckons the focus will largely fall on food accessibility, affordability, and traceability. He therefore urges pork producers to be responsible and ensure they produce nutritious, healthy and traceable products.