Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has set out a list of targets for the Irish pigmeat sector in its Pigmeat Policy document, which includes a target to increase exports by €200m per year.

The organisation representing factories has set out its views on growth ambition for the Irish pigmeat sector and a series of key recommendations it believes are necessary to deliver growth in the coming years.

According to the Director of MII, Cormac Healy, Irish pigmeat output can sustainably grow by 80,000t per annum, delivering up to €200m in additional export earnings for the sector.

“This growth in output can deliver up to 1,000 additional jobs throughout rural Ireland and can also boost producer margins and processor efficiency,” he said.

Healy also said that the Irish pigmeat sector is already quite efficient and well-structured compared to many European counterparts and operates at strong technical performance levels.

“Over the last five years the sector has more than delivered on growth targets set out for it in Food Harvest 2020.

Irish pigmeat exports were valued at €570m in 2015 which represents 70% growth since 2010. This performance is a combination of volume and value growth, driven primarily by demand in international markets.

“Unlike the other meat sectors, most of the recent growth in Irish pigmeat exports has been to international markets such as China, Japan, South Korea and Australia,” he said.

The MII Director also said that the Irish and EU pigmeat sectors have undoubtedly come through a very difficult two years, up to early/mid 2016.

“The Russian embargo on EU pigmeat had a significant market impact.

“Reduced producer returns did result in major cash flow difficulties on pig enterprises. Irish pig prices were not insulated from this market turbulence, though price falls here were not as extreme as seen elsewhere in the EU.

“Irish pig price is now above the EU average and well ahead of prices in key pig producing countries including Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Spain,” he said.

Policy paper recommendations

Healy also said that MII firmly believes that the pig industry has already demonstrated its capacity and determination to meet meet these challenges and to grow the sector.

“As pork consumption worldwide is expected to grow steadily over the coming years, the challenge for the Irish industry is to share in that growth and deliver increased contribution to national economic activity.

“The MII Pigmeat Policy document highlights that meeting this growth ambition requires action on a number of important recommendations as detailed in our report,” he said.

Recommendations for the pigmeat sector:
  • A comprehensive and immediate response by Government and State Agencies to both the short-term and longer term fallout from Brexit.
  • Significant investment is required in pig housing infrastructure to cater for growing output while at the same time enhancing animal health and welfare standards.
  • MII is specifically calling for a significant new allocation under TAMS to support pig housing investment and that the investment ceiling be raised to €300,000 per unit.
  • A commitment on more resources to drive the international market access agenda for Irish pigmeat.
  • Urgent prioritisation of recommendations in the Pig Industry Stakeholder Group (PISG) report and a specific working group, with independent chair, to drive implementation.
  • An unrelenting focus on cost of doing business in Ireland to underpin the competitiveness of the processing industry operating in a challenging global marketplace.