Coronavirus crisis: Pig farmers hope public brings home the bacon

Zach RelphCountryman
Cuballing pork producers Graeme and Angie Dent.
Camera IconCuballing pork producers Graeme and Angie Dent. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman

Pork producers are confident the industry will not be hit by a sharp downturn in restaurant trade as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, highlighting supermarket and butcher demand as an opportunity.

Restaurants Australia-wide were forced to close indefinitely on Tuesday, as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.

WA Pork Producers Association president Graeme Dent said he doubted pig farmers would receive improved farm-gate prices in the wake of the pandemic.

However, the Cuballing farmer said he expected pork to remain on Australian forks.

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“The demand for protein will still be there,” he said.

“Even if people are spending more time at home, they will still be eating, and I doubt their diet will be changing and most people will be going about their business as usual. People still need to eat.”

Although the shut restaurants sparked fears there would be less demand for pork, Australian Pork Limited boss Margo Andrae also watered down concerns.

“Pork plays a significant role in meeting our national food needs,” she said.

“On average each Australian eats more than 10kg of fresh, locally produced pork every year.

“Despite the uncertainties of COVID-19, Australians can be confident about the farm sector’s supply of fresh produce, including locally grown Australian pork, to the market.”

Ms Andrae added the outlook for Australian pork prices was unclear, after value fell about 5 per cent or 30¢/kg carcase weight.

“The food service trade, representing about 25 per cent of our sales, is experiencing a devastating downturn of up to 90 per cent,” she said.

“That drop is having an impact on pork prices.

“Asian restaurants, where pork is an important part of the cuisine, have evidently been hit the hardest and it’s clear the viability of many food service businesses is on the line.”

Craig Mostyn Group, owner of Linley Valley Pork, would not respond to Countryman’s request for comment on COVID-19 precautions it had implemented at its processing facility.

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