BRAZIL is growing at an astonishing rate and its pig industry is holding on for the ride.
In the past five years, the sale of disposable nappies in Brazil has grown by 859pc; cake mix sales have increased by 369pc and cat food is up 310pc.
A majority of the land, not including the Amazon rainforest, is undeveloped, with the potential for cropping.
While figures in relation to Brazil's pig industry are not as alarming as the growth in nappy sales, the growth is obvious, according to Agriculture Department researcher Bruce Mullan.
Dr Mullan told pork producers, researchers and veterinarians about his trip to Brazil and the growth of the country's pig industry at a seminar last Friday night.
A group of 20 representatives from Thailand, Korea, New Zealand and Australia travelled to Brazil for a tour of its pork industry.
Dr Mullan said in the past few years Brazil had seen a large increase in fresh pork consumption, a steady growth in production and an increase in productivity.
He said the signs pointed to the rapid growth continuing.
"The cheap labour costs are attracting overseas companies," Dr Mullan said.
"And the money coming in from these overseas companies is growing."
Dr Mullan said the cheap grain, labour and imports contributed to a low cost in production for international companies.
There were good investment opportunities in Brazil, and not just for pigs, he said.
"There are opportunities in pigs, poultry, beef and infrastructure."
At a Perdigao processor, 12,000 pigs were being slaughtered per day, and the plant planned to increase production from 40,000 to 70,000 sows per year, in the next three years.
At a local stud, piglets were weaned at 19 days (5.8-6kg), and 2.45 litters were produced per sow per year.
With labour costs low, Dr Mullan said there was a strong emphasis on labour rather than machinery.
"Labour is the capital," he said.
"They (Brazilian pork producers) believe that it is cheaper to have lots of labour than having an automated feeding system."
They had a full-time bricklayer and cook and one person per 40 sows, he said.
Dr Mullan said there were concerns that Brazil was looking at export opportunities in Singapore.
This could be a threat for Australian pork, he said.
In March 2005, Australian-farmed pig meat exports to Singapore were worth $5.3 million, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Australian Pork Limited (APL) has expressed concerns in the past that Brazil is affecting Australia's export opportunities to Singapore.
"Australian pork export volumes to Singapore are now 18.7pc below levels one year ago as frozen pork from Brazil and China continues to compete aggressively for Australian market share on the food service and wet markets," APL's March 2005 Pork Export Report stated.