I know its been a long time between blog posts but so much has happened in the last year that something had to give and it just happened to be the blog. Thats said we are currently working on a BIG project to create a processing factory for all our meat(s) and products so expect to see more blogs soon (don't worry I am taking lots of photos and notes as we progress) and you can follow our progress via our newsletter.
This blog entry is really a 'SPECIAL ENTRY' which came about when I read a recent report from NZ Pork and then saw an advert on TV for low cost pork sold by 'New Zealand's Butcher - The Mad Butcher.'
I am probably the last person to support intensive pork farms, where ever they are in the world, but I feel that there is a story that needs to be told and perhaps it will be more poignant coming from a farmer who is focused on animal welfare and higher quality meat.
The story starts at the abattoir last week. Whilst dropping off some of our pigs I was talking to the handler and he happened to mention how bad the market for pork was at the moment and how pig kill numbers were low because the company was overstocked with meat. Here at Woodys we can't produce enough to meet demand so I asked him why they couldn't see the meat and the response was blamed on foreign imports. I, like most people, thought this was just an excuse for poor sales practice and that it only affected ham, bacon, sausages and other processed meats but it turns out its 'fresh' meat too and its shamefully true. As it happens a few days later I received a report from NZ Pork (based on NZ Statistical data) showing the level of imports versus locally produced pork. Here is just a small section of the report showing that in 2014 imports exceeded local pork supply and this has subsequently caused local supply to shrink ever since.
So what does this mean? It means that in our continued wish to buy cheaper meat we remove the viability of businesses in our own neighbourhood, the outcome is that businesses collapse (or can't afford to improve) and jobs are lost, perpetuating the need for cheaper food. Over 33% of this pork comes from Spain, where they are heavily subsidised by the European Union and experience far low grain prices that we do (they also have questionable animal welfare beliefs). The total volume of pork imported to New Zealand in April 2017 was 4,303 tonne, up 4.31% from last month and up by 8.18% from the same month last year. Let me repeat 4303 tonnes of overseas pork landing in NZ when our local meat processors cannot sell what they have just killed. This is CRAZY behaviour and in many countries it would be stopped by anti dumping laws.
So is the $6.99 per kg pork in the Mad Butcher is from Spain? Not necessarily, it might be from NZ but it is only that price because of the flood of product from overseas. The point is that we should start to be more vigilant about where our food comes from and not just how much it costs. ALWAYS ask where does this meat come from, always look for the country of origin and if its not on the packaging DO NOT BUY IT. And if it says (as bacon often does) 'made from local and imported ingredients) then you can be damn sure that the meat is from overseas and the only local ingredient is probably the Manuka smoke.
I want to make it clear that you should NOT be buying cheap pork from intensive farms (or freedom farms), we can only change the industry if we support free range farmers who are trying to put animal welfare first. But if you really feel the need to buy massive chunks of cheap protein then PLEASE buy NZ born and raised meat, not only will this help to reduce the imports it will create (or at least save) NZ jobs.
Sub note on pricing: Our grower pigs live for nine months outdoors, until they are about 65-70kg. Each day they are fed 1kg of specially formulated pig feed each feed (two feeds per day). Each kg of food is about $0.80. If you do the maths you will see that our pigs cost more that $6.99 per kg (not including all the other cost involved in running a farm and a business.) Intensive pigs are not able to move much so burn off very little food and subsequently gain weight faster, they therefore only live for 4-5 months. Regardless of this you can see that $6.99 per kg is NOT the real price of these animals.