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Adding value to spanish exports

Wikispanishfood

7 DE agosto DE 2019

The Ibérico pig, 100 years of history

Wikispanishfood Editorial Team

The Ibérico pork industry has been, and currently is, an emblematic component of Spain's agri-food industry with a very important economic, social, territorial and cultural role. This sector has ties to rural areas, it drives employment and it helps settle inhabitants of areas at risk of depopulation while contributing to biodiversity and environmental sustainability in rural zones.

The greatest exponent and an important moment

According to the National Meat Processing Industries Association of Spain, ANICE/IBERAICE (the latter including all Ibérico pig producers), the Spanish consumer is aware that Ibérico pork products are one of the greatest examples of Spanish gastronomy and the Mediterranean diet, a varied and balanced food, and recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage.

For both of these associations, the sector is in a very good place at the moment, as consumers truly appreciate Ibérico pork products and the provenance guarantees ensured under the Quality Standard. Moreover, the sector is in the process of expanding internationally into the EU and non-EU markets.

It's worth noting that, in the last year for which results are available, Spanish households consumed 14,720.21 tons of Ibérico hams and shoulders, worth over 430 million euros, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Ibérico pork industry has been, and currently is, an emblematic component of Spain's agri-food industry with a very important economic, social, territorial and cultural role. This sector has ties to rural areas, it drives employment and it helps settle inhabitants of areas at risk of depopulation while contributing to biodiversity and environmental sustainability in rural zones.

The greatest exponent and an important moment

According to the National Meat Processing Industries Association of Spain, ANICE/IBERAICE (the latter including all Ibérico pig producers), the Spanish consumer is aware that Ibérico pork products are one of the greatest examples of Spanish gastronomy and the Mediterranean diet, a varied and balanced food, and recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage.

For both of these associations, the sector is in a very good place at the moment, as consumers truly appreciate Ibérico pork products and the provenance guarantees ensured under the Quality Standard.

Moreover, the sector is in the process of expanding internationally into the EU and non-EU markets. It's worth noting that, in the last year for which results are available, Spanish households consumed 14,720.21 tons of Ibérico hams and shoulders, worth over 430 million euros, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

It's worth noting that, in the last year for which results are available, Spanish households consumed 14,720.21 tons of Ibérico hams and shoulders, worth over 430 million euros, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Uptick in slaughter

In 2018, Ibérico pig slaughters increased by 5.2%, and a total of 3,708,827 animals were killed, according to the Interprofessional Ibérico Pig Association (ASICI).

Data for the montanera (acorn feeding period) for 2018-2019 reveal that 669,480 pigs were slaughtered, of which 654,388 were suitable carcasses, reflecting a 9.7% decline in acorn-fed animals compared with the previous campaign, according to ASICI and registries in its digital information system, ÍTACA, reflecting a decline in slaughters and suitable carcasses from Ibérico pigs feeding on acorns in the dehesas.

According to ASICI, of the total acorn-fed pigs slaughtered (669,480), 49.73% bear a black seal, i.e. they are 100% Ibérico pigs, a decline of 4.8% compared with the 2017/2018 campaign. A total of 50.27% have a red seal; 13.61% are 75% Ibérico, a decline of 11.4% with respect to the previous campaign, and 36.66% are 50% Ibérico, down 15% with respect to the previous campaign.

With respect to acorn-fed pigs slaughtered in 2018. 734,914* (19.8%). *calendar year, non-campaign; feed-fed 2,973,913 (80.2%) with a green seal. 665,310 animals (-1.9% with respect to 2017) and with a white seal. 2,308,603 animals (+16.4% with respect to 2017).

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The importance of understanding the difference

The seal system is an idea from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Ibérico sector to provide consumers with the guarantees with regard to safety and quality.

When the consumer sees the black seal, they immediately know that it's 100% acorn-fed Ibérico ham, where the pig's mother and father were both of the Ibérico breed, duly registered in the pedigree books and, during the fattening period, that it exclusively fed on acorns and other natural elements on the dehesa.

If the seal is red, the ham comes from pigs that were 75% or 50% Ibérico breed which fed exclusively on acorns and other natural elements on the dehesa. When the seal is green, these are recebo hams which come from pigs that were 100%, 75% or 50% Ibérico breed and which fed on pasture and feed. And, lastly, when the seal is white, the ham comes from 100%, 75% or 50% Ibérico pigs which are mainly fed fodder, grains and legumes.

The primary challenge

For ASICI and ANICE/IBERAICE, the short-term commitment to Ibérico ham and other Ibérico products is to achieve a PGI certification. This is very important for the sector, the goal being to achieve adequate protection for the "Ibérico" label in Spain and abroad. This is essential for ensuring that the name "Ibérico" can't be used elsewhere in the world.

In accordance with the European regulation, a PGI certification would protect the product's connection to the geographical area where it's produced and processed. Obtaining a PGI certification for Ibérico pork would automatically protect this product at EU level and also in non-EU countries through commercial agreements that the EU establishes with them.

 

Ibérico pork DOs in Spain were created to ensure that Ibérico pigs were raised and produced properly, in line with specific regulations, and ensure that they can bear the corresponding quality seal.

The main goal of the DO is to certify the production and quality of Ibérico products and to recognize the superior quality of these items, attributable to the geographic area where they are produced and the role of producers in the process. As a result, both ASICI and ANICE/IBERAICE believe that DOs are necessary to guarantee the quality, protection and prestige of Ibérico pork products.

A competent future

The sector's outlook is very promising. The sector is well-positioned, the herd is increasing reasonably, we have excellent veterinary health and phytosanitary conditions and an industry with no extreme gains or imbalances between the different parts of the chain; domestic consumption is also stable. As a result, everything is aligned to support growth in exports. According to ASICI and ANICE/IBERAICE, the Ibérico sector is on the right path towards a future with guarantees, moderate optimism, and with a future full of opportunities.

A commitment to quality

The recently re-appointed president of ASICI, Antonio Prieto, tells us that "this data reflects the maturity of the Ibérico sector, it's ability to adapt to the montanera conditions, and its commitment to quality. "The Interprofessional association has analyzed acorns from the montanera period and the results reveal an average fat content of 7.93%, i.e. less than 9% recorded during the 2017-2018 period. The average oleic acid content was 62.33%.

 

During the 2018/2019 montanera period, there were 212,826 sessions in the ÍTACA traceability system (+13.73% compared with the previous campaign), 2,376,695 pages visited (+8.99%), and 27,749 active, registered users on the platform (+12.97%), a testament to the strength of the sector's digital platform.

Looking at historical data, since the traceability system was implemented back in 2015, there have been 11.71 million page views, over 137,000 users, and almost a million sessions.

The sector's familiarity with the system improves year after year, as visible in some of the variables analyzed, such as the decline in the length of the session, the number of pages viewed to complete processes, and the bounce rate. These parameters reflect a more effective and efficient use of the platform by users.

ASICI has also completed 13 campaigns to verify the identification and labeling of Ibérico products at points-of-sale since June 2014. In the most recent campaign, during the last holiday season, members of the association visited 177 establishments in 57 cities in 11 regions, verifying 1,055 products from 387 brands.

Thirty million quality seals have been placed on Ibérico hams since 2014. According to ASICI, 8.3% had a black seal, 10.4% a red seal, 18.8% a green seal and 62.5% a white seal. Ibérico shoulders also received a similar number of seals. The almost 60 million seals can be checked by consumers using the Ibérico app.

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African swine fever

As with other sectors, the appearance of African swine fever would have a very negative impact on production since foreign markets, which are necessary for industrial balance, would close; this would have catastrophic economic consequences for Spain's livestock sector.

ANICE maintains that it is extremely important to take all of the necessary precautions; avoid risk; fully apply biosecurity measures in every way; comply rigorously with cleanliness and disinfection requirements for vehicles transporting animals and meat; and verify the origin of animal, meat and meat product imports and limit their entry into Spain.

It's important to ensure the origin, identification, traceability and control of all animal movement and to notify the Official Veterinary Services of any suspected illnesses. It's also very important to train and inform the industry internally, especially foreign employees from affected countries.

In terms of the specific risk for Ibérico pork, Spain has reinforced safety measures for the boar population, the primary animals that would transmit this disease, prohibiting the import of boars from areas affected by the restocking of game.

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Productive model

The Ibérico sector is the best example of a productive model with ties to the land and support for the natural environment. This model guarantees the production of unique, inimitable products based on a autochthonous breed with high quality standards based on food safety, traceability, labeling, animal welfare and sustainability.

A quality standard that is committed to strengthening traceability by using a labeling system that guarantees that the product is Ibérico and includes information about the sale and the animal's Ibérico breed percentage.

In addition to this, the association designed, developed and implemented, with its own resources, the ÍTACA system for identification, traceability and quality. It's a digital tool that allows for Ibérico products to be traced, from the animal's birth to the point-of-sale.

ÍTACA is the best reflection of the sector's commitment to transparency and quality. With the continuous support of ASICI, and thanks to everyone's efforts, we have been able to digitize the Ibérico sector.

Wikispanishfood does not take responsibility or necessarily identify with the opinions expressed by its collaborators, limiting itself to becoming a transmitting channel of the same