December 2015: Looking outside our own backyard

Genesus, the renowned Canadian pig breeding company, has been sending out fortnightly emails for almost a year now. They contain lots of facts and figures about conditions and prices around the world. They are interesting, frightening at times and take you away from your own backyard, as it’s easy to lose contact with what’s going in the wider world.

It’s always difficult to relate prices in foreign countries to those in our own domestic market, but thankfully they seem able to do that in simplistic form. They do it in liveweight in good old fashioned lbs! At the beginning of October, in the US as an example, 53.02c/lb was the going rate; 48.77c in Canada; Mexico 68.09c; the southern region of Brazil 50.09c, Russia (presumably because of the embargo) 70.12c; Vietnam at 94.90c; Spain 57.33c, China 124c; and South Korea at 176c.

That’s quite a variation, and there was a big difference in the amount of soyabeans and maize imports too. That must make a huge difference to production costs, if the product can’t be grown where it’s used.

In the month of July, Vietnam imported 21,000t of soybeans; and in the first nine months of the year, almost 1.2 million tonnes of maize. Apparently the global consumption of soyameal last year was 198.6 million tonnes, and that’s projected to rise to 208.6 million tonnes next year. It’s difficult to imagine those sort of figures, and it makes our own efforts at growing a few beans here look almost pathetic – particularly when no-one seems to want them, or only at a giveaway price. Why don’t more of own producers use the beans we can produce here?

Genesus had previously done a report on Vietnam saying the country’s Economic and Policy Research department had issued a statement saying that domestic livestock production there was unsustainable, non-competitive and vulnerable, and would be at a disadvantage when the new Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Asian Economic Community were introduced. This was because of the large number of small scale farms, the dependence on imported breeding stock, devastating diseases, technical limitations and poor slaughtering facilities.

Now the Vietnamese Livestock Production Department predicts that the country will grow to become very competitive. The reason being that the three large farm-to-table companies that have developed a very efficient poultry industry, are setting about doing the same thing with pigs. On top of that, Japanese companies are looking to invest in Vietnam.

Does any of this sound familiar? Isn’t that what makes pig keeping worldwide such an interesting and fascinating occupation?

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About The Author

Sam Walton is a Yorkshire farmer and former pig producer, and the founding editor of Pig World.