GNOWANGERUP Berkshire pig breeder Judy Pearce believes opportunities to exploit Berkshire stud and pigmeat markets in Asia are being lost because the Agriculture Department is discouraging investment in Berkshires.
Mrs Pearce, who is the WA president of the Australian Pig Breeders Association and vice president of the Australian Berkshire Breeders Association, said it was a pity the Asian Berkshire market was not being tapped by WA.
“A few years ago I was selling breeding stud pigs into NSW to another breeder for export into Japan,” Mrs Pearce said.
“These pigs were transported into NSW in an air conditioned horse transporter.
“It seems that while the eastern states are exporting, exploring and winning new sales, our Department of Agriculture has failed to capitalise on what our customers want and is too busy discouraging investors from Asia, by telling them we don’t have enough Berkshire sows in WA.
“How can they be so misinformed?
“Our WA Department seems oblivious to what our overseas customers want, unlike the eastern states, where they have gone out and asked what the customers want and then have sought to meet those orders.”
Mrs Pearce this month sent a consignment of Berkshire pigs to NSW.
The pigs were bought by Richard and Heather Cole, owners of “Riverglen” and Lachlan Dale, Forbes, NSW, who were increasing their sow herd to keep up with the huge demand for Berkshire pig meat.
“Berkshire pigmeat is bringing a premium in NSW,” she said.
Mrs Pearce said many breeders had gone out of Berkshires because some of the processors preferred their own breed of pigs yet the demand for Berkshire pork and pigs in the eastern states was phenomenal.
But Agriculture Department senior research officer Bruce Mullan disputed Mrs Pearce’s claims and said the department had had a strong emphasis on meat quality for the past 10 years.
This included working closely with processors and exporters on a chilling strategy to perfect meat colouring for the Singapore market, as well as a food safety project with Australian Pork Ltd.
Dr Mullen said there was a small market for Berkshires in countries such as Singapore and Japan but providing consistent quality and supply was a problem.
“We are not going to develop the market if growers are not going to supply it,” he said.
“Its up to Berkshire producers to increase production and sow numbers and perhaps go through a bit of pain, but it’s no good having a quarter of a container."