Supermarkets back WA free-range pork

23 Dec, 2015 01:00 AM
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BIGGER demand for pork products has boosted production this year, said past Craig Mostyn Group chief executive officer David Lock.

"We are doing about 12,500 pigs a week through our plant," Mr Lock said.

"That is significant growth from last year, at an increase of about 20 per cent.

"It is relatively small and consistent across the year, but obviously there is a surge in pork legs, which go to the small goods manufacturers for hams.

"At Christmas demand is very heavy, so we put stock aside ready for the Christmas rush."

WA's pork industry produces 10pc of Australia's pig meat, with a farm gate value of $130 million.

The demand for pork products this year has been important for producers.

One of the changes in the industry is the growth in free-range pork.

By mid-2016 it is expected that 20pc of pork produced in WA will be from free range production systems.

"A lot of that free range pork is going to the eastern States," Mr Lock said.

"Coles and Woolworths are exporting from WA into the East from free-range farms as they have decided WA is a great place to grow free-range pork and that will be their focus,'' he said.

"From a farming point of view it will benefit WA, from a consumer's point of view, they will probably follow the trend. WA consumers only eat a small percentage – but that will increase.

"I think the biggest boom for farmers in WA has been that growth in free-range and I think that has really kicked up production in WA."

Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said local pork product has been in demand, especially in the lead up to the festive season.

Mr Baston said supermarkets and butcher shops have been offering locally-produced pork and ham products in a range of specialty cuts leading to Christmas.

"Sales of fresh pork such as loin and shoulder roasts increase as we head into the feasting season," Mr Baston said.

"We are seeing strong demand for quick and convenient alternatives to traditional roasts, with a selection of fresh, pre-prepared specialty products created by local processors and butchers.

"These include boneless stuffed roasts or marinated 'cook in the bag' cuts which are easy to prepare and cook in half the time - perfect for a busy Christmas day."

Mr Baston said free range pork production had increased in WA over the past 12 months, with this product more readily available in stores.

"Another Christmas favourite is ham on the bone, and it's tremendous that some smallgoods producers and specialist butchers have produced locally-sourced and made WA ham," he said.

"There is obviously a consumer-driven demand for local product and this is a great example of retailers and processors working together to support our local producers."

Mr Baston said WA customers would be able to identify WA pork and ham products carrying the State Government's 'buy west eat best' logo.

"This is good news for our WA pork producers and good news for WA consumers who can have confidence in the quality of the product," he said.

"The 'buy west, eat best' initiative is a great way for WA growers, processors and retailers to promote safe, quality WA food products, backed by quality assurance programs and protocols."

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