Pig sector says `don't panic', plenty of pork to go around


Andrew Marshall, Farm Weekly (Australia) 

19 Mar 2020


The pork industry estimates restaurant and hospitality service sector demand has slumped as much as 90 per cent in the past month, yet pig markets are still fetching good money as retail sales fill the big void.


The coronavirus shopping stampede for meat products witnessed in many city stores and some regional centres in the past week has prompted the pig industry to assure consumers there are plenty of pork cuts and bolognaise mince to go around.


"Price trends are actually a bit stronger than you'd probably expect for this time of the year" - Scott Reid, Forbes


"I wouldn't want to say it's panic buying, but butchers and supermarkets appear to have taken up a fair bit of the slack we'd expected in the trade after restaurants slowed down," said NSW selling agent Scott Reid, at Forbes.


"We're certainly seeing more butchers' orders coming through.


"Price trends are actually a bit stronger than you'd probably expect for this time of the year.


"It's not hard to work out that people who aren't eating out these days are buying more to eat at home."


Despite aisles of near-empty meat cabinets in some supermarkets making headline news, and a drought-forced downturn in pig numbers for sale, peak body, Australian Pork Limited insisted the sector was well placed to continue meeting demand for the nation's second most popular meat protein.


More than 100,000 pigs were being processed every week, primarily for domestic consumption.


" It's clear the viability of many food service businesses is on the line" - Margo Andrae, Australian Pork Limited


APL confirmed recent demand at supermarkets and butcher shops had been notable, in contrast with a sharp downturn in the restaurant and food service trade which normally accounts for 25 per cent of consumption.


"Asian restaurants, where pork is an important part of the cuisine, have evidently been hit the hardest...