CHANGES at WA's biggest pig abattoir Linley Valley Pork (LVP) will improve its service to export markets.
Agriculture Department meat scientist Darryl D'Souza has been appointed as a technical manager at the facility, which is run by processor PPC.
New packing rooms for red and white offal have been added and a $3 million upgrade will accommodate pigs processed by Watson's following the closure of its Spearwood abattoir in February.
Mr D'Souza will manage quality assurance, product development and export strategies at LVP.
He said the facility was world class and PPC realised the need for scientific support in tackling competitive domestic and foreign markets.
Meat scientists are employed in similar roles by North American and European processors but are rare in Australia.
"In terms of exports the big thing is to maintain our chilled pork markets," Mr D'Souza said. "That means making sure we select the right carcases, with the right amount of belly fat and right colour for the Singaporean market."
Singapore is the main destination of LVP product, with a small amount going to China.
Mr D'Souza said the strong Australian dollar made it difficult to develop new markets but Taiwan and Hong Kong were future targets.
Singapore remained strong despite the dollar and lag-effects of the poor season pig producers had in 2002/03.
Mr D'Souza's current research includes performance analysis of generic pork versus pork brands Linley Valley Fresh and Select Pork.
"We've certainly found that consumers significantly prefer the branded product," he said.
LVP general manager Ron Penn said the poor state of the industry made it important to be quality conscious.
He said the new offal facilities expanded LVP's export product range.
"At this point in time it is purely a way of maintaining and consolidating our international markets," he said.
The upgrade for Watson's will allow the slaughter of about 3500 more pigs per week.
The weekly LVP slaughter is currently about 7500 pigs.
Improvements include the conversion of an old beef line into a chopper line and an increase in the lairage holding capacity to 3000 pigs per day.