Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer. @rmiguelanez
Ricardo Migueláñez.- How would you describe the current situation in the white pig sector?
Manuel García.- Spain's white pig sector has experienced growth in recent years: today we are Spain's leading agri-food sector, ranking second in terms production in the European Union and fourth in the world, accounting for 40% of agricultural production in economic terms, trailing leading industries such as automobiles and petrochemicals.
Efforts by the sector, which has worked together through Interporc, have placed it in this positive situation, where competitiveness, food safety, livestock health and product quality, along with a commitment to conquering international markets, have been the pillars on which the structure of the Spanish pork sector is based.
R.M.- Productivity of livestock farms is essential for competitiveness. Do you believe Spanish farms can compete with those in other EU countries?
M.G.- There's always room for improvement but, at present, Spanish pig farms can be proud to be among the best in Europe, and I would even say in the world.
It has been a tough road where there have been notable investments in the health of the herd and in implementing biosafety and animal welfare measures, which indubitably position us today as a competitive industry on all levels and in all international markets.
If we want to maintain the pace of exports and balanced production, we must be able to guarantee that almost 40% of total production in Spain is exported. To that end, production must be completed in accordance with quality, animal health and food safety which can exceed any commercial or health barrier imposed by key countries for Spanish pork.
Spain was able to adapt its pig farms almost 100% to the new Animal Welfare Directive before the established deadline in January 2013 due to the entire sector's commitment to sustainable, respectful livestock production.
Today we can be proud because, in Spain, we have very modern farms which are well adapted to animal welfare, and some of them even go above and beyond legislative requirements.
R.M.- Is there still scope for growth in livestock in Spain?
M. G.- With regard to the pig herd, growth will come as a result of growth of the farm. In the last ten years, exports of pork from white pigs have increased by more than 200% due to the sector's commitment to internationalization and to the laudable efforts by companies to export to more than 140 countries worldwide. The added value of these exports comes back to Spain, by reducing emigration and creating jobs and infrastructure which give rise to a large number of indirect activities related to the stockbreeding industry.
R. M.- In terms of consumption, what's the status of the market in Spain?
M. G.- Fortunately, the Spanish market continues to support us and there's a very acceptable level of pork consumption which has increased by more than 5% in the last three years, to 45 kilos per person per year. We have to increase loyalty and strengthen consumption by debunking false myths and by associating our products with lean, white meats which are healthy and a necessary part of a balanced diet.
R. M.- What activities does Interporc organize to help the sector, both in and outside Spain?
M. G.- Interporc represents all of the players in the sector chain, from the farm to the table, covering production through to marketing and including the processing industry with more than 12 Spanish associations. Its main objective is to strengthen the sector's strategic position, from an economic, social and food standpoint, through initiatives and actions within the framework of domestic promotion, healthcare professionals, international promotion, animal health and by drafting industry and gastronomy studies and reports as well as an essential pillar: internationalization.
Interporc also promotes innovation and research to resolve the problems affecting the sector, while promoting exports and sharing sector concerns throughout the value chain.
The association's promotional activity outside Spain in the first half of the year included traditional destinations (Japan and China) and other countries of interest for the sector due to both the size and growth in volumes exported in recent years (South Korea, Italy, the UK) and to recently-opened markets (Taiwan and the Philippines). Interporc attended the main agri-food fairs and events in those countries, including: SIAL Shanghai, Foodex Tokyo, Seoul Food & Hotel, Madrid Fusión Manila, Eurocarne Verona and IFE London, as well as major events such as Expo Milano. Moreover, and in line with Interporc's collaboration framework with the Cervantes Institute, showrooms have been organized for members of the press and importers at the headquarters in Tokyo and London. Events have also been held for the press, importers and distributors in importer countries to highlight the qualities of our products, with great success.
Promotional activities have also been carried out, with the organization of reverse trade missions for the media to visit facilities and production centers in Spain. Specifically, Korean and Taiwanese journalists from leading national publications participated in the missions, resulting in the publication of interesting articles and reports on Spanish white pigs in their domestic media.
Another series of major promotional actions are planned for the second half of 2015. The goal of this activity is to strengthen the image of our products in those countries which are traditional exporters, and to highlight the possibilities and characteristics of Spanish white pork and processed products in new export countries with a view to successfully competing with other nations.